Study on utilizing branches from agroforestry for biomaterials and biochemistry - AGROBRANCHE

The AGROBRANCHE project aims to study the potential use of branches from agroforestry. It involves taking advantage of the specific properties of agroforestry woods in the biomaterials and biochemistry sectors.
Agroforestry plot at Noyers de Restinclières © CIRAD
Agroforestry plot at Noyers de Restinclières © CIRAD

Agroforestry plot at Noyers de Restinclières © CIRAD


Agroforestry systems cover large areas in France. However, the branches from regular maintenance pruning of the trees are underused. In addition, one of the drawbacks of timber‑based agroforestry, as regards acceptability to farmers, often lies in the fact that profitability is only achieved over the long term.

The opportunity for using intermediate biomass, made possible through trees that are highly productive because of agroforestry conditions, would help to improve short- and medium-term profitability. That would greatly enhance farmers’ acceptance of these practices. For industrialists, it would offer the possibility of obtaining quality raw materials more easily and more sustainably, in an agroecological setting.


The project comprises four stages.

  • Stage 1, field scale: assessment of the available resource, from tree to supply territory, and a techno-economic analysis of the biomass supply chain ; 
  • Stage 2, laboratory scale:
    1. Material utilization pathway: definition of supply channels, and production of wood fibre-based materials;
    2. Biochemical utilization pathway: characterization of branches from selected tree species and definition of utilization pathways for extractives.
  • Stage 3, industrial scale: validation of the envisaged solutions, techno-economic analysis and life-cycle analysis of key end-products; 
  • State 4: dissemination of the results obtained, notably by informing and raising the awareness of stakeholders in the corresponding supply chains.

Expected changes

  • The industrial potential for using agroforestry wood chips in the materials and chemistry fields will have been quantified; 
  • Supply channels for agroforestry wood chips, and the extraction processes for fibres and molecules of interest, will have been defined;
  • The use of materials and the extraction of molecules, on a laboratory and industrial pilot scale, will have been validated.

Expected impacts 

  • The needs of the industrial sectors (green chemistry, biocomposite materials) gain access to an agroforestry product of high agroecological value not competing with agricultural products; 
  • A platform for information and exchanges between partners in the field, and stakeholders in the corresponding supply chains, is created. It serves to improve knowledge on the management of biomass-based agroforestry systems; 
  • Actions for technical and professional enhancement are undertaken with companies involved in biomass harvesting and distribution, and with industrialists looking for large volumes.
Contracts partners : Agroof Scop ; Centre de recherche commun IMT MINES Alès - ARMINES C2MA; Inra; Chambre d'agriculture de Bretagne; Laboratoire d'étude et de recherche sur le matériau bois (Lermab); Fibres recherches développement (FRD).