Professional Development Program for Silvopasture Adoption

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $89,530.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2021
Grant Recipient: Sustainable Farming Association of MN
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:


Not commodity specific


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, feed/forage, grazing management, grazing - rotational, pasture renovation, range improvement, rangeland/pasture management
  • Crop Production: agroforestry, forest/woodlot management, silvopasture
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, participatory research, technical assistance, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: business planning, value added, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: afforestation, wildlife
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Sustainable Communities: leadership development, partnerships, social networks, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    The Professional Development Program for Silvopasture Adoption, sponsored by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota (SFA), is an education, training and outreach program targetting 50 agricultural professionals, notably University of Minnesota Extension personnel, natural resource professionals (MN Department of Natural Resources, Soil and Water Conservation personnel) and farmers to learn the rudiments of silvopasture and its relationship to soil health.  Long term, this project equips participants to educate and support farmers and landowners to adopt silvopasture practices to supplement farm income and restore unmanaged forests. This project addresses the lack of trained silvopasture professionals in Minnesota and complements a new University of Minnesota Extension silvopasture program focused on nearly 640,000 acres of unmanaged wooded pasture that are an untapped soil health and agricultural resource. 

    Using a model of three learning clusters convened in 3 Minnesota regions (southern, central and northern), the project uses professionals trained in silvopasture, agroforestry, soil health and oak savanna restoration to teach 50 participants the rudiments of silvopasture, agroforestry and its relationship to soil health, AND how to support farmers and landowners to develop and implement silvopasture plans.  The learning clusters will be convened twice over 2 years (1 workshop + 1 field day), supplemented by webinars and workshops incorporated into SFA's Soil Health Summit.  Learning clusters will be coached to convene one silvo pasture education event in their region.  Farmers practicing in silvopasture or beginning their journey will be recruited, along with participants in SFA's 1,140 person Soil Health Network.  Trainers include the Savanna Institute, Extension educators and SFA personnel.  

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Outputs of the Professional Development Program for Silvopasture Adoption include:

    • tangible working relationship with the project team that strengthens during project.
    • greater knowledge, skills and experience on silvopasture and savanna restoration among SFA's personnel and leaders
    • Year 1 webinar content as well as the webinar with at leasty 25 people attending
    • Workshop materials for Mar. 2020 Soil Health Summit with at least 25 people attending the silvopasture session.
    • Workshop curriculm and materials for late March early April 2020 workshops in each of 3 regions with 25 attendees per workshop.
    • Field day curriculum and materials for summer 2020 silvopasture field day in each of 3 regions with 25 attendees per region.
    • Workshop materials for Mar. 2021 Soil Health Summit with at least 25 people attending.
    • Workshop curriculm and materials for late March early April 2021 workshops in each of 3 regions, and 25 people attending each.
    • Evaluations -- total of 12 during the entire 2 year project (one for each of the 3 workshops held each year, one for each of the field days held each year) -- total should be at least 300 evals (25 people x 6 events x 2 years = 300) 
    • Advertising and social media materials used to generate interest in the project for workshops and field days
    • A new and growing list of at least 50 ag, forestry and natural resource professionals with knowledge of silvopasture who attend a workshop or field day.
    • A new and growing list of farmers and landowners with knowledge of silvopasture who are able to be demonstration and (possibly) research farms.  Total of 3 per region per year, 6 for the project.
    • A list of at least 25 attendees for each regional workshop each year, and each regional field day each year.  Potentially, new people could attend each event, while it is hoped that those attending a workshop will then attend a field day. Or, if a field day is their first exposure
    • Stronger relationships with partners in NRCS, SWCD, MDA, Extension and State Cattlemens and Sheepgrowers around silvopasture practices. 
    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 or SARE.