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Silvopasture

 
scott romack
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I just saw Silvopasture
which looks close to what I am thinking about doing in my pastures.


The only thing I don't like about their system is near monoculture in the tree row and I would make the rows on contour with swales.

Anybody know anything about silvopasture?
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Darrin Doherty has some timber management videos on youtube that fit well with silvo pasture.

Most of my silvopasture was natural progression and is a mix of honey locust and black walnut with a few oaks and persimmon. It won't be a timber source, but it is a great fodder system for pastured hogs.

ETA: I am also opening up much of my woods to be more silvo pasture than forest just by grazing goats, sheep, and highland cattle--the highlands clear out the cedars and many of the smaller trees.
 
Ben Walter
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
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Check out "Restoration Agriculture" by Mark Shepard. There's a lot of good info for this type of system.
 
Jay Hayes
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Location: Missouri
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The first time I heard the word was in a handful of Agroforesry classes I took in college. I know that the University of Missouri Agroforestry department has done a bit of research on different types of Silvopasture. I doubt you would be super impressed though. My experience was a combination of traditional ag inputs rowed between single file crops of walnuts (for timber) or chestnuts (for nuts). It was my thinking for many years that Agroforestry really only worked in the tropics. After learning a bit about permaculture I have changed my mind. I think that silvopasture and the work of folks like Mark Shepard are a great way to go in the temperate midwest (the only place I have enough experience with to comment on).

My land is naturally divided into 6 fields of about 10-20 acres each by strips of woods that grew up along streams and draws and wet spots that were never mowed. I have started thinning the trees in the narrowest of the wooded strips and have planted a mix of fruit and nut trees and shrubs,grapes (wild and domestic), blackberries, currents, gooseberries, apples, plums (wild and domestic), pears, cherries, elderberries, persimmons (wild, hoping to graft domestics someday), hazlenuts, shell bark hickories, walnuts and pecans, along the edge of the strips sort of widening them and trying to keep a core of useful timber species in the middle and more sun loving food trees on the edge. I am planting the trees in varying densities trying to see how much shade some of the fruits will tolerate and still be productive. My existing treed strips had a mix of mature persimmon, wild plum, and mulberries already present so I have been playing with thinning around them and even very lightly pruning a few to see if I can increase some fruiting.

It is my plan to keep planting strips on 100-200 foot centers across several of the pastures to allow for grazing/haying in between the rows of trees. The closer I get to the center of a field I am thinking I'll drop out the tall timber species to maximize sunlight and fruit/nut production. It is essentially a silvopasture, but with a wider strip of trees than the single rows I am most familiar with. My thinking is to keep the wooded strips 30-50 feet wide and pruned/thinned enough to promote an open understory (open enough to keep a heavy herbaceous layer). I live in oak country, but am planting Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron Tulipifera) as a faster growing lumber species in the middle of my existing wooded strips. A row of those in the center of a strip, then some hickories and pecans beside those. Then an edge of the succesively shorter fruit trees and shrubs on the outermost edges of the rows. The way my property lies it made the most sense to run my rows east/west so I am thinking I will get decent sunlight on the south facing side of the rows and can plant fruit trees more densely. On the north side of the rows I am planting fewer fruit trees and more shrubs and vines.

Sadly my project is far to young to give you any good ideas as to efficacy. I have put 500-600 trees in the ground over the hast 2 years, most aren't dead yet, so maybe someday I can show some pictures. I have yet to create a row completely, so far I am only filling in bare/thinned spots in existing treed areas.

Putting the treed strips on contours sounds like a perfect plan. Swales also seem like an ideal addition to the system. What are your thoughts on species to plant and width/spacing of tree/non-tree strips? This is the sort of info I have found very little practical advice on. The Missouri Agroforestry folks have some decent data on crop productivity at varying width spacing of treed rows, but their overall approach was so different that it is not fully applicable. Any thoughts are appreciated.

R Scott: Did you just say that Highland Cattle eat cedar? As in Eastern Red Cedar? I think I am beginning to like those beasties more and more!

J
 
Jeff Jourdain
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Cornell Cooperative Extension has materials relative to silvopasture in the northeast on their website. Also included are power point presentations from the Northeast silvopasture conference held in Nov. 2011. Plenty of good materials there.

http://www2.dnr.cornell.edu/ext/info/pubs/index.htm

Also they have a 'ning' site, a forum about silvopasturing: http://silvopasture.ning.com/
 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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How about a definition?

Silvopasture:
The concurrent and intentional production of forages, livestock and trees on the same area of land in a sustainable system.
 
Erik Little
Posts: 160
Location: USDA 5b - Central IL
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I would also add Grant Shultz: Permaculture Voices Podcast

Versaland.com


Grant is going to be doing a class on Keyline design at his farm soon. He is also going to make that class available in the fall online. I will probably take the online class when it comes out...hopefully it will be after I finish my PDC with PermaEthos.

Grant mentions how to get USDA grants for this.

I am going to see Mark Sheppard next Friday he is doing an event at "Sundappled (sp) Farms"
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
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Erik Little wrote:
Grant mentions how to get USDA grants for this.


Unfortunately, silvopasture is a really hard sell in the Northeast. They will not pay to convert forest to pasture, fence off forest to let animals graze, or even use animals to get rid of invasives (herbicides only!!!).

They will pay to plant trees in pastures but balked when I wanted to pollard them. I said this didn't kill the tree and she said she'd have to talk to the state biologist.
 
Erik Little
Posts: 160
Location: USDA 5b - Central IL
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Cj Verde wrote:

Unfortunately, silvopasture is a really hard sell in the Northeast. They will not pay to convert forest to pasture, fence off forest to let animals graze, or even use animals to get rid of invasives (herbicides only!!!).

They will pay to plant trees in pastures but balked when I wanted to pollard them. I said this didn't kill the tree and she said she'd have to talk to the state biologist.



oh good grief...lesson for the rest of us. Don't tell them how you are going to maintain them. You can apologize later.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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Erik Little wrote:oh good grief...lesson for the rest of us. Don't tell them how you are going to maintain them. You can apologize later.


Unfortunately, I don't think you can do that, at least not with NRCS (which is part of the USDA). You have to sign a contract and follow their rules.
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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"I shred the limbs rather than burning them. If I burn them some char and then they just sit there and never break down." - Someone needs to point him at biochar!

Also, notable absence of tree legumes in their system. They need some locust or something.

I was watching making a mental checklist of things to change/improve...
 
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