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Combining pasture and orchard  RSS feed

 
Doug Gillespie
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This has probably been covered, but I could not seem to find the right combination of keywords on the search engine ...

As we've been planning how to arrange things on our land, the topic of which areas should be pasture and which should be orchard has come up.  Initially, we were thinking of running the orchard in a linear fashion down each side of our road, and separating it from the pasture with fencing.  Lately, though, we've begin to wonder (having seen the quality of light and grass in some local pecan orchards) if it might not be better to scatter the orchard trees throughout the pasture instead. 

As long as we put some fencing around each tree (probably wattle, which we love) to keep the sheep and/or goats off of them, the trees should be protected from girdling.  It would seem from what we've seen locally that scattered trees (even if regularly placed on rather a tight grid) allow plenty of light to hit the ground for growing grass/hay or even cereals (the ancient Greeks grew barley underneath their olives).  Finally, having a mixture of sun and shade in the pasture would allow our animals more choice as to where to be, which will be of particular importance in the hot Georgia summers. 

Thinking about it, we tried to figure out why it's not more commonly done this way, and the only thing we could come up with is that the trees would interfere with mowing or hay gathering by large machine too much.  Sicne that's not likely to be much of an issue for us, it need not really be considered.  Are there other major reasons NOT to do things this way? 

Thanks,
Doug
 
John Polk
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Livestock love scattered trees on their pasture.  If you put watering tubs under a few, you will know where your livestock will be on a warm summer day.  Goats is another matter.  They will live in the trees if they are in fruit!

I grew up in an area where most pastures/meadows had huge oaks scattered - Beautiful!

 
Paula Edwards
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We have only a little very small paddock.
If walnuts grow in your area and your drainage is good, then they are said to be excellent for sheep. I just planted an olive tree and a carob in our paddock, but I did this i n beds, because I had to mound because of the drainage.
Another question is if you have to net against birds. Then you only can grow dwarf varieties of fruit trees and sheep like to nibble on apple leaves.
I would plant trees there which you harvest and process, like cider apples. You don't want to go in the paddock for each apple or plum and your children might forget to close the gate. Eating out of hand trees must be close to the house.
 
Doug Gillespie
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Sounds like it will work perfectly well.  Are there any pasture or cereal crops that will definitely NOT like the intermittent sun such an arrangment would provide.  e.g. does sorghum or some other thing absolutely definitely positively HAVE to have unobstructed sun from morning to night?

Thanks,
Doug
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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I read a book on temperate agroforestry which frequently referenced such systems both for fruit and for timber (silvopastoralism?).  The primary issue that was talked about was plant protection costs -- particularly cattle which can be bullish, and the incremental loss of pasture services over time, which could be solved by thinning for timber (chestnut?)... Maybe combine with swales on contour and have a more striped linear pattern if water retention is a goal on that red Georgia clay during hurricane season?
 
              
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Location: Australia
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I've order 1,100 Tagasaste seeds and some carob tree seeds and will be looking at mulberries to plant out in my pasture as I am going down a similar route of food producing trees in pasture but more focused on stock feed plants.

But being cool-temperate you are good to look at a combined pasture/orchard system as a productive choice.

Cheers,
PeterD
 
Jeff Hodgins
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Not exactly pasture but;
I have an old orchard which I cut grass off of all winter and in the summer my runner beans come up and give me a crop of beans. The vines could be cut and fed to livestock but I leave anything that manages to climb the trees as a trellis for the next year. Grass does good farther from the large trees but under them I've found that swiss chard, quinoa and dockweed do best. Swiss chard and dockweed can be cut or grazed and will come back well, quinoa however is better if left to reach flowering stage and then cut and dried. You don't want to feed them to much quinoa at once or they will get diaria. If it is too mature they won't eat the steams and it is not worth it. If you do it right quinoa can produce alot of fodder during the winter or summer in subtropical areas like the southern USA. I plant in fall and cut in spring before my beans get to big.
 
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