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Silvopasture Newbie Question

Posts: 19
Location: Tennessee
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I bought some land that has little pasture and 15+ acres of woodland - I want forest garden - silvopasture. The plan is to have goats, a dexter cow, and maybe (MAYBE) a horse.
I am in Middle TN, and want to plant sugar maple, tulip poplar, and black walnut and seed a mix of orchardgrass and white clover. Looking for suggestions on grass species that are goat and cow safe and can tolerate shade and proximity to walnut...
I have done a lot of research, but it is scary starting out and being afraid of planting the wrong thing...
Posts: 3847
Location: Marmora, Ontario
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You might do better looking for nut trees that will do other than walnut. Its allelopathy is quite the hurdle to most guild planning. Why not something like chestnut or butternut instead?

If you're looking at an alley arrangement, with rows of trees lining alleys of pasture, treat them as two separate adjacent systems. Look at the prairie areas where walnut lives on the edges and see what grass species exist there, if you're bound and determined that your grandkids eat walnuts, but I would suspect that big and little bluestem and indiangrass might play a part. Sainfoin and alfalfa are sometimes good options, with the sainfoin in the mix apparently cutting down on bloat from leguminous forage. The orchardgrass and white clover is pretty standard. I would look at Timothy hay and perhaps buckwheat, too.

I wouldn't focus on horses. If it happens, enjoy it. But to design a system around the frailties of a horse is a huge handicap you don't want to deal with if you actually want to get anything done.

In my opinion, the only large obstacle you've chosen for yourself is the inclusion of walnut. It's not impossible. I have included a link to a good article on working around walnut trees here.

From the linked article:

What plants can we use in a walnut guild?
There are plenty of plants not affected by juglone that we can use in the food forest.

Toby Hemenway described an interesting plant guild for a walnut tree in his book, Gaia’s Garden – a Guide to Home Scale Permaculture.

It consists of:

Walnut – English or Black Walnut (Juglans spp.) – for nuts
Hackberry – food for wildlife
Wolfberry – food for wildlife and medicine
Peppers or tomatoes
Elaeagnus (Elaeagnus spp.)
Mulberry – for fruit or fodder
Currants – for fruit
Elderberry – for very edible flowers and fruit
Gaias Garden A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, walnut guild 2nd Edition Toby Hemenway

I think that Toby Hemenway made a mistake recommending tomatoes in this guild, as tomatoes are very sensitive to juglone. Otherwise it is quite good, though it could be improved even more by adding more productive shrubs and an edible ground cover layer.

Permaculture walnut guild blackcurants
Walnut, black currant, red currant and nettles.

I recommend:

Pecan or Walnut – English or Black, for nuts
Huckleberry for wildlife food
Autumn olive, gumi, or Seaberry for nitrogen fixation and tasty fruit
Goji plant for tasty goji berries (superfood)
Mullbery for fruit or fodder (berries and leaves)
Elderberry for flowers and fruit
Black currants for fruit
White currants for fruit
Red currants for fruit
Gooseberry for fruit
Fiddlehead ferns (ostrich fern, royal fern) for edible, asparagus-like young shoots
Borage for greens, medicinal value and pollination
Nettles for medicinal value, animal fodder, survival food and an insect attractant

Just remember, for this guild to work well, we need fertile soil with plenty of water…

This is a pretty complete list, as it goes, but I hope it will spur someone to mention others not on this list.

But let us know how you proceed, and good luck.

David Nash
Posts: 19
Location: Tennessee
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I understand totally, I didn't include the full plan, stage one and only a few acres have this arrangement, because sugar maple, popular and walnut all help wild stimulated ginseng.  (which those growing beds would be fenced off from goats....)  The rest of the forest pasture will include other nut and fruit trees as well as other timber species.  What you provided gives me a lot of insight and help. Thanks.
Posts: 3554
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7 AHS:4 GDD:3000 Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
forest garden solar
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To me silvopasture is strip of pasture that is 80ft wide next to a strip of windbreak/foodforest/hedge that is 20ft wide.

That 20ft wide strip of food forest could be 600ft or as long as you want it.
I would plant two rows of trees in that 20ft strip. And going down say the 600ft length I would plant trees every 10ft. It's okay if some get outshade and die in a decade. For the tree mix, you could leave out the Nitrogen fixer if you make up for it in the pasture, otherwise 80% at establiment, then culled to 20% at maturity. The usual, mix of currant family+prunus sub-family+pear/apple subfamily, mullberry/fig family, persimmon, pawpaw, elderberry, pomegranate, jujube and the and artic kiwi (and hybrids like Issai, that only get to 10ftish), then there is the nuts, hazelnut, chestnut and the butternut/walnut family.

Pasture (4 categories and 7 species in each category)
1) N-fixer (•15% Birdsfoot Trefoil•10% Forage Pea•10% Red Clover•10% Alfalfa)
2) Drymass (•15% Orchardgrass•10% Kentucky Bluegrass•10% Perennial Ryegrass)
3) Medicinals/Pest Control (10% Forage Chicory)
4) Soil Aerators/Miners (10% Daikon Radish)

Goat Pasture
I would plant 7-12 plants in each category.
lamb's quarter
fava bean
sweet clover
landino clover
hairy vetch
black-eyed peas
sun flower
bee balm
pea (pisum arvitiuse)
stinging nettle
maximillian sunflower

At the edge of the 20ft wide tree strip dont be afraid to plant things that you could randomly harvest like:
Herbs: basil, chamomile, cilantro, cutting celery, dill, parsley
Vegetables: amaranth, arugula, beets, broccoli raab, carrots, collards, kale, lettuce, orach, mustards, New Zealand spinach, parsnips, pumpkin, radish, rutabaga, tomatillo, tomato, turnips, winter squash, dill, borage (flowers tasty), lamb’s quarters,Strawberry spinach
Flowers: bachelor button, calendula, celosia, cosmos, nasturtiums, poppies, sunflowers, sweet alyssum, viola
Root Vegetable: Beet, turnips, parsnip, sweet potatoes, irish potatoes, yams, onions, garlic, etc
Asparagus, Rhubarb, walking onions, lovage, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes,safir celery, salad burnet, sorrel, prickly-pear cactus, dandelion, purslane, good king henry, chickweed, balsamroot — Balsamorhiza,
Perennial Sunflower-Edible Root and Seeds, Jerusalem Artichoke
turkish rocket, groundnut, ramps, welsh onion, skirret,
Other useful perennial things :
Seasonings: French tarragon, chives, garlic chives, oregano, marjoram, thyme, sage, costmary, parsley (bi-annual)
Teas: lemon balm, mints, chamomile, fennel
Medicinals: red clover, valerian, self heal, Echinacea, comfrey, dandelion, hops, lavendar, lemon balm, hyssop, horehound, feverfew, calendula (reseeder), bee balm (reseeder), mullein (reseeder), plantain, rue

You can also get a very bountiful mushroom harvest too, oyster mushroom and winecap are really good starter mushroom.
Dont be afraid to place a few ponds in the pasture area too, pond liners are cool too, at least in my book.
Posts: 178
Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
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I would guess there are already black walnuts (a maple and poplar) growing on your place. They are not the easiest nuts to use but grow wild with no assistance other than to protect them from grazing animals when they are small. My sheep have not gone after the bark of walnuts yet.
I would take a good inventory of what is already there and leave what is useful to you. Assuming you don’t have unlimited time and money. Spend your time and money are better spent planning what you don’t have and nurturing what is already growing that is useful to you.
Goats and horses love bark (don’t know about cows) and are very damaging to trees.
Ginseng may be there to. I have found it in open shade areas with no competition.
Good luck on your new adventure.
Posts: 462
Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
kids hugelkultur purity forest garden foraging trees chicken earthworks medical herbs rocket stoves homestead
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    Black walnuts are greatly feared, but the danger is manageable, because juglone breaks down quickly in bioactive soils, which is what silvopasture is creating. Joel Salatin actually spread a lot of black walnut husks on his fields, and the soil was bioactive enough that there were no ill effects, and the grass grew six feet tall that year. Also, black walnut trees are very valuable timber, so that’s another advantage.
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