Pasture versus invasives: competing in newly-disturbed soil under a newly-opened canopy transitioning to silvopasture

Project Overview

FNC18-1112
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2018: $5,350.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2021
Grant Recipient: Berstein Community Farm
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Animal Production: pasture renovation, rangeland/pasture management
  • Crop Production: silvopasture
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Pest Management: competition, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: integrated crop and livestock systems, permaculture

    Summary:

    Our farm has a 4.5 acre semi-wooded area between a ridge and property boundary that has been overgrown with invasive species. We had been planning to remove the invasives and establish silvopasture but a week after marking trees for removal, a violent storm uprooted about half the trees for us, accelerating our timeline.

    We’ve been using pigs to clear the invasive species in our woods and seeding pasture in each paddock after they leave. In this project, we’re evaluating how well pasture will grow in this semi-wooded environment and how well it will suppress invasive regrowth. We will compare samples in the main pig-disturbed and broadcast-seeded areas with samples from adjacent areas that are undisturbed and left unseeded, undisturbed and overseeded with the same pasture mix, and disturbed but left to regrow from the seed bank. We will also give a cursory evaluation of the time of year best suited for this pig-and-then-pasture disturbance by comparing the next-season pasture quality and invasive species prevalence of paddocks disturbed and seeded at different times of year.

    The first year of the project worked as expected, but a repeated injury in spring and summer of the second year made collecting data impossible. An extension has been requested and granted so we can collect data in the third year (two full years after disturbance and seeding).

    Project objectives:

    1. Assess the quality of pasture before disturbance, after disturbance, and the season after seeding (including in control areas).
    2. Evaluate the presence of invasive plants before disturbance, after disturbance, and the season after seeding (including in control areas).
    3. Assess the effectiveness of disturbance by comparing data from test areas to data from control.
    4. Compare quality of pasture and presence of invasives across disturbance/seeding times, to determine the best time of year to use this method of invasive control.
    5. Share findings through field days, citizen science events, and social media.
    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.