Professional Development Project: Economics of Silvopasture

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2021: $79,010.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2023
Grant Recipient: SFA - MN
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Lucinda Winter
Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota


  • Additional Plants: trees


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, rangeland/pasture management, winter forage
  • Crop Production: agroforestry, forest/woodlot management, silvopasture
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, farmer to farmer, networking, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, farm-to-institution, new enterprise development, risk management
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, carbon sequestration, habitat enhancement, soil stabilization
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    The Professional Development Program: Silvopasture Economics, sponsored by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota (SFA), is an education and professional development program targetting 50 forestry and agricultural professionals, farmers and landowners to learn the economics of silvopasture, its costs and benefits, a critical information need that must be addressed to assure silvopasture adoption. It is Phase II of  the PDP Program: Silvopasture Adoption (Project # ENC 19-178) which equiped over 200 participants to educate and support farmers and landowners to adopt silvopasture practices to supplement farm income and restore unmanaged forests. Working with researchers and silvopasture professionals, Phase I trained 50 professionals  in 3 regions (north, central, southern) and has generated a wealth of informational products focused on nearly 640,000 acres of unmanaged wooded pasture in Minnesota that are an untapped soil health and agricultural resource. 

    Phase II builds on Phase I by generating much requested economic information about the wide and variable range of input costs and economic benefits of silvopasture, generating fact sheets, an economic calculator tool, case studies and pod casts. This will be shared with the 50+ ag professionalsin Phase I,  another 50 professionals who will receive extra training so they in turn hold 1 silvopasture learning event in north, central and southern Minnesota, farmers and ~500 in the "Silvopasture Learning Network", formed by UMN Extension and SFA. Farmers practicing silvopasture or beginning their journey will be recruited. Information will be shared with Green Lands Blue Waters, SWCD Forestry Association, Foreage Councils and Learning Network. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Education Materials:  Outputs include at least 1 economic fact sheet or publication, 1 assessment tool for use by farmers or landowners, 2 podcasts on economics (one per year), case studies (5) in year 2, reprint of materials from Phase I of the project as needed, since those materials will be depleted by mid 2022.

    Number of participants: Total is 50 professionals trained + 1,120 attendees at workshops, field days, other groups' events.

    • 50 Professionals who are trained as a result of this project and who receive a scholarship to pay for 1 workshop and/or 1 field day registration.
    • An estimated 75 attendees at Soil Health Summit silvopasture session in 2022 and another 50 in 2023 -- total of 125 (this may overlap with the number of 
    • 400 number of people on Silvopasture Learning Network who will receive SFA economic materials and assessment tool.
    • 320 number of people on SFA Silvopasture cohort who will receive SFA economi materials and assessment tool.
    • ~ 25 people per workshop 2 and 3 in Year 1 + same in Year 2 (50)
    • ~ 25 people per field day 1, 2 and 3 in Year 1 + same in Year 2 (75)
    • 100 people who attend SFA's table and or presentation at one of the following:  Green Lands Blue Waters, MN Assocition of Soil Water Conservation Districts, Soil Water Conservation Districts Agroforestry Association. 

    Number of partnerships:

    • University of MN CINRAM (already strong)
    • Green Lands Blue Waters (already strong)
    • UMN Extension (already strong)
    • MN Assocition of Soil Water Conservation Districts (exists, needs strengthening)
    • Soil Water Conservation Districts Agroforestry Association (new) 


    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.