Silvopasture

Silvopasture

Agroforestry: Southern Region Resources on Woodland Management and Land Use Conservation

Silvopasture

Silvopasture is an agroforestry system that incorporates forage crops and animal production in a woodland, forested, or tree plantation environment. Silvopasture involves an integrated forest grazing practice in which livestock, such as cattle, goats, sheet or pigs, is used to harvest forages or native forest plants, while helping to manage trees and their understory plant communities as part of a planned forest ecosystem production and management system.

Silvopasture systems offer great opportunity to address several production and environmental issues. These systems can increase productivity and resource use efficiencies in pasture systems and can greatly improve the value of timber stands in woodlots that traditionally are poorly managed. Silvopastures also can mitigate stress to grazing livestock, buffering animals and forages alike from climatic extremes. A further benefit is the opportunity to improve environmental outcomes, because trees can capture nutrients lost from cool-season forages and because the stress mitigation for livestock can reduce their use of streams and surface waters for evaporative cooling. In addition, grazing controls weeds and other unwanted vegetation, eliminating competition with the cash crop, and improves soil nitrogen for healthier pastures.

Silvopasture can be established by thinning an existing forest stand and adding or improving a forage component, or by adding low densities of trees to existing pasture. The trees are managed for high-value saw logs, and at the same time they moderate the microclimate for forage production and provide shelter for livestock. Silvopasture is practiced most successfully in regions with mild, moist climates suited for commercial timber and livestock production, making the Southeast an ideal region for the adoption of the practice. They are designed to provide short-term cash flow from the forage-livestock component while producing a high-value timber component.

With lumber prices and environmental concerns relative to loss of wildlife and land degradation, silvopasture is an agroforestry practice that continues to receive greater interest from landowners. The following SSARE-funded resources help addresses much needed research information on how best to design and integrate agroforestry practices such as silvopasture into the agricultural landscape.

Arkansas Study Finding Ways to Integrate Poultry with Pasture Species and Agroforestry Production

 

With the right tools, farmers can successfully incorporate poultry into free-range, multi-species pasture or agroforestry production.

Establishing Cottonwood Plantations

 

A fact sheet on establishing cottonwoods as a bioenergy feedstock in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley from the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension.

Manual: Management of Weeds in Organic Coffee

 

A manual produced by University of Puerto Rico on sustainable strategies to manage weeds in organic coffee systems. NOTE: This manual was produced in Spanish.

Download File (34.97 MB)

Weed Control in the Organic Coffee Field

 

A video created by University of Puerto Rico outlining sustainable methods for controlling weeds in organic coffee fields. NOTE: This video is in Spanish, with English subtitles.

Published by the Southern Region of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Southern SARE operates under cooperative agreements with the University of Georgia, Fort Valley State University, and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture to offer competitive grants to advance sustainable agriculture in America's Southern region. This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, under sub-award numbers: LS09-219, LS10-226, and LS10-231. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 

Resources from Other SARE Regions

North Central SARE

Continuous Living Cover Manual

Living Cover Manual

A manual that focuses on plant cover on the soil and roots in the ground all year long.

Western SARE

A Guide for Hawai'i's Farmers

Hawaii Farmer Guide Cover

A guide to assist new farmers in agroecology and agrofoestry principles in tropical small-island settings. Topics include silvopasture.