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Placement of trees in a pasture - ?

 
Renate Howard
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Location: zone 6b
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I'm reading Peter Andrews' "Back from the Brink" and he recommends putting the trees on the hill tops, so the nutrients/carbon from the leaves can flow downhill to enrich the pastures below. That makes a lot of sense to me, but on our hilltop we get a lot of wind (30 - 40 mph about once a week). The wind comes from the direction of the pasture toward the hilltop, so I'm thinking the leaves might just all blow to the neighbor's unused creekbed and down to the river! I could plant pine trees (looking at Virginia pine because it likes rocky hilltops and clay soil, according to Musser Forests), which would have the added benefit of winter windbreak and vitamin C source for the animals to self-medicate (pine tips are very high in vitamin C). Plus I don't think the needles will blow away like dry tree leaves.

Of course, Australia is a completely different ecosystem than Kentucky/foothills of Appalachia.

The way my property is set up now, the trees are at the bottom of the hill, where it gets steeper and there are seasonal creeks that carry the water down to the river at the bottom of the hills. My house is on the top of the hill (to take advantage of the magnificent view). I could plant some more trees around the yard (living air conditioners), and also on the tops of the ridges that slope down from the house and driveway. I've never managed a pasture before, tho - is there any reason this would be a bad mistake? The ridges run roughly east-west, the storm winds (high winds) come from the West and blow up the hill toward the house, which is at the top. We own mostly West of the house, and just a little bit to the East.
 
greg patrick
Posts: 168
Location: SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
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What are you feeding? We have goats, so my trees ARE my pasture. Cottonwoods and sycamores create massive amounts of food for them. Cottonwoods are great in wind.
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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one of the reasons you only have trees at the bottom, is fire sweeps thru the grass, up the hill.

think firebreak, not just windbreak. maybe cleared for a couple rows of grapes, below the trees ?
 
Renate Howard
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We have highland cattle, goats and pigs. The forest is too far from the house to put the goats - I want them where I know they're safe from the coyotes! They're on the East side of the house - very steep hill with lots of brambles and shrubs in the pasture. The highlands and pigs are on the pasture to the west of the house - all kinds of trees - maples, hickories, butternuts, oaks, cedars, and the invasive bush honeysuckle just about everywhere (which the goats love!).

The whole area used to be tobacco farms and I think the creek beds were too hard to plow so they left them and the trees grew there. The tops of the hills are rounded, more flat, so easier to plow, so no trees. Fire isn't a big concern here - too much rain.
 
Renate Howard
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Driving around looking at the fields yesterday and hiking to the top of a nearby mountain, I noticed my property IS backwards, and I think that's why we're having the soil loss problems we are. The mountain I hiked was topped by huge boulders but everywhere there were trees growing and the soil around the boulders was spongy with humus from the trees. It wasn't washing down the hillside, and neither was the soil - there weren't deep gullies there.

If the trees are at the top, the cows will loaf under them and the rain will wash the nutrients from the manure downhill to fertilize the pasture, along with nutrients from the falling leaves and detritus under the trees. But I am rethinking letting cows under the trees because they would graze the grass down short and that would keep the hilltops from being as absorbent as they could be if there were shrubs and smaller plants under the trees.

At the low points there should be plants (grass? reeds?) slowing the flow of water to let the fertile elements settle out before it joins the river. The trees that are there now are shading out other plants and actually allowing more of the topsoil to be washed away. If the valleys were a series of small ponds that would let it happen and I'm thinking of trying something I saw online - making a screen of closely spaced willow cuttings to act as a dam - they will root if buried and become a living flood fence that will catch sticks and grass being pushed downhill until the water makes its own dam to slow the flow. All that fertility can then be a valley of grass for the cows to graze. I asked a backhoe operator if he could put in dams there but he said the sides were too steep to run his equipment safely and he didn't think he could get enough fill to make much of a dam, due to the steepness of the grade already.
 
andrew curr
Posts: 288
Location: Deepwater northern New South wales Australia
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Renate Haeckler wrote:I'm reading Peter Andrews' "Back from the Brink" and he recommends putting the trees on the hill tops, so the nutrients/carbon from the leaves can flow downhill to enrich the pastures below. That makes a lot of sense to me, but on our hilltop we get a lot of wind (30 - 40 mph about once a week). The wind comes from the direction of the pasture toward the hilltop, so I'm thinking the leaves might just all blow to the neighbor's unused creekbed and down to the river! I could plant pine trees (looking at Virginia pine because it likes rocky hilltops and clay soil, according to Musser Forests), which would have the added benefit of winter windbreak and vitamin C source for the animals to self-medicate (pine tips are very high in vitamin C). Plus I don't think the needles will blow away like dry tree leaves.

Of course, Australia is a completely different ecosystem than Kentucky/foothills of Appalachia. I think my australia might be similar
Try stone pine, bunya,artemesia ,dont forget californian redwoods oaks honey locust pecans walnuts running bamboo etc

The way my property is set up now, the trees are at the bottom of the hill, where it gets steeper and there are seasonal creeks that carry the water down to the river at the bottom of the hills. My house is on the top of the hill (to take advantage of the magnificent view). I could plant some more trees around the yard (living air conditioners), and also on the tops of the ridges that slope down from the house and driveway. I've never managed a pasture before, tho - is there any reason this would be a bad mistake? The ridges run roughly east-west, the storm winds (high winds) come from the West and blow up the hill toward the house, which is at the top. We own mostly West of the house, and just a little bit to the East.
 
andrew curr
Posts: 288
Location: Deepwater northern New South wales Australia
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is the Peter Andrews stuff popular down there?
I think it is good stuff I visited peters property 25 years ago when at ag college
He as a man tends to polarise views cause he appreciates weeds and their role in landscape rehab
 
andrew curr
Posts: 288
Location: Deepwater northern New South wales Australia
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If you are going to have live stock you will have to do some sort of rotational grazing to allow the grass to rest
 
Renate Howard
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Location: zone 6b
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I'm working on the rotational grazing. Not there yet. For now I'm fencing them OUT of the worst parts of the pasture to let it recover, then will let them in again for periods of time.
 
andrew curr
Posts: 288
Location: Deepwater northern New South wales Australia
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Rest is a great tactic for the pasture
my climate might be similar to yours just upside down!
Where is your nearest town? what tree species are you using?
I use elms ,Oaks ,robinia (shipmast locust) Bunya would be a neat novelty tree fo ya ,Gleditsia ,just ordered some redbud ,i assume youve got hickory (i have trouble procuring), artemesia,comfrey,
good luck
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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