Establishing a Silvopasture Site for Long-term Research, Education, and Livelihood

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2024: $25,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/01/2027
Host Institution Award ID: G243-24-WA507
Grant Recipient: Sol Cycle Farm
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Principal Investigator:
Jason Bradford
Sol Cycle Farm


  • Additional Plants: native plants
  • Animals: bovine, sheep


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health
  • Crop Production: silvopasture
  • Natural Resources/Environment: habitat enhancement

    Proposal summary:

    As the climate becomes hotter,
    dryer, and more variable, we face increasing heat stress on
    livestock, less reliable growth of forage resources, and
    ecosystem perturbations affecting a multitude of species. Animal
    health and farm income are at risk with no quick solutions as
    most ranches, following a history of tree and hedgerow removal to
    enlarge fields, lack the vegetative structural diversity needed
    for weather resilience. 


    We propose silvopasture
    development, i.e., the deliberate integration of trees into a
    grazing system, using native plants to build vegetative
    structure, improve livestock health, and support area
    biodiversity. Our project will document installation techniques,
    initial environmental, and biodiversity responses on a 10 acre
    field in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. While the specific
    plant species may be most relevant for inland valleys west of the
    Cascades, many lessons should be broadly applicable. 


    A silvopasture develops over
    decades, yet many research questions can be asked at this phase
    of the project. We are interested in the practice and cost of
    establishment for native trees and shrubs, whether from cuttings
    taken from nearby forests or purchased from nurseries. Our
    experimental design allows for comparison of growth rates between
    tree species. We expect early insight into crucial environmental
    parameters, such as temperature differences between treatment and
    control areas during heat waves, and changes in biodiversity
    indicators in the soil, avifauna, and arthropod communities.
    While trees take many years to reach full stature, by the end of
    the study we may have at least one test of animal health impacts
    by comparing groups of livestock kept in treatment vs control
    environments (pending additional funding). 


    We will conduct field days,
    present at regional stakeholder meetings, publish in standard
    outlets (e.g., Extension, NRCS), and use popular YouTube channels
    and podcasts, to explain our project rationale and disseminate
    our results.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Secure the establishment of the silvopasture using native
      trees and shrubs on a seasonally wet field. 
    2. Install and learn to utilize fencing systems to protect new
    3. Collect baseline data on plant growth rates, soils, climate,
      and biodiversity.
    4. Solidify collaboration with researchers and pursue additional
    5. Potentially get early trials on animal health in control vs
      treatment areas during a heatwave.
    6. Take lessons learned and translate into updated guidelines
      through area stakeholders. 
    7. Have well attended field days of interest to both livestock
      managers, farmland managers, and environmental professionals.
    8. Produce outreach materials for talks and poster sessions at
      regional events.
    9. Gain wider audience from outlets such as YouTube and podcast
    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.