SilvoPro: A Training Program for Silvopasture Professionals

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2023: $135,320.00
Projected End Date: 02/27/2026
Grant Recipient: Trees For Graziers
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Austin Unruh
Trees For Graziers

Information Products


  • Animals: bovine, goats, poultry, sheep, swine


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, silvopasture
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, technical assistance, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: business planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: afforestation
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities

    Proposal abstract:

    Problem or Opportunity and Justification:

    Silvopasture mitigates many of the most pressing agricultural and ecological challenges of our time. Integrating trees into pasture simultaneously addresses issues around farm economy (over-reliance on single-income streams and off-farm feed), animal welfare and climate resiliency (heat-stress, cold-stress, feed availability during drought). It also reduces stormwater runoff and erosion, while enhancing biodiversity. Silvopasture is ranked as the number one means of sequestering carbon in the temperate zone (1). Therefore it directly addresses the cause of climate change, while simultaneously protecting livestock and farm income from its impacts. 

    A challenge is that few farmers and ag professionals are well-versed in both grazing and trees, especially tree establishment in the challenging conditions of active pasture. Silvopasture systems are relatively complex and specialized knowledge is required. Because of this, most farmers are ill-equipped or intimidated to develop silvopasture on their own. But with professional support, the potential scale of application is tremendous. Any farmer who raises animals (ruminants, horses, pigs or poultry) on pasture stands to benefit from integration of trees.

    There are many general silvopasture resources, but to date there are no programs or resources specifically designed to train professionals to systematically develop and execute silvopasture plans with farmers in the Northeast. 


    Solution and Approach:

    The solution is training planners to successfully implement and manage silvopasture in partnership with farmers. This involves developing professional-level resources, workshops and coaching in real-world applications. The course will provide this. And because we are practitioners ourselves, participants will have the unique learning opportunity of touring existing silvopasture systems as well as discussing case studies with the actual planners who planned and implemented them.

    Professionals must understand details beyond what most farmers need to know, such as designing and managing a project, selecting well-adapted stock, and accessing cost share. These detailed how-tos are simply not available in a user-friendly educational format at the moment, mostly due to the reality that almost zero professionals are actively engaged in planning, implementation and aftercare of silvopasture systems. Of those, an even smaller portion is experienced in curriculum development. This means that at present, silvopasture implementation know-how in the Northeast lives almost exclusively in the heads of the few experienced project leads. In order for silvopasture to be adopted at scale, this knowledge needs to be shared with other professionals.

    We at Trees For Graziers have helped 20+ farms establish 16,000+ trees on 360+ acres in just the past three years, in a geography where previously almost no silvopasture was happening. By equipping professionals with the tools to make silvopasture effective and easy for farmers to adopt, we are confident that similar rates of success will follow elsewhere.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    40 service providers will write at least 80 plans for 80 farms that are raising livestock on pasture, directly affecting at least 2,500 acres. During the timeline of the grant, at least 15 of those 80 farms will have started to add trees to their pastures.

    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.