This project will evaluate the establishment of native plant species for livestock forage and wildlife habitat in a silvopasture system. A mix of native cool and warm season grasses, forbs, and legumes will be planted in two treatments (black walnut and pitch-loblolly pine) of mature silvopasture systems. The rate of establishment beneath each canopy type will be compared to an open pasture control. Forage nutritive value (fiber, protein and digestibility) will be measured.
Giving talks and presentations at university agriculture research center field days will be the main source of outreach to farmers and ranchers, as these are heavily attended events by the target audience. A video chronicle of the project produced and posted on social media pages hosted by the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (CAFNR) will allow producers the opportunity to learn, comment, ask questions, and stay updated on project progress throughout the year. Attendees of field days and other meetings will be given pre- and post-presentation surveys to determine the level of knowledge gained for the different aspects of our project. Questions on the surveys will help provide reflection on whether or not the project outcomes have been met.
There are four main outcomes related to farmers and ranchers for this project. First, they will learn how to establish native species in a silvopasture system to use as forage for livestock. Second, farmers and ranchers will be able to use these newly learned practices to incorporate pollinator-friendly species into their own existing forage-livestock systems, and that some may consider managing existing timber land to create a silvopasture system for improved land management and livestock use. Being able to produce two commodities (timber and forage for grazing/haying) on the same amount land where previously only one had been produced allows farmers and ranchers to expand their enterprise and increase their economic value without having to purchase more acres. Incorporating the native plant species as a forage choice draws pollinators to the area creating a more aesthetically pleasing environment for wildlife habitat while improving quality of life for the people and their livestock.
Project objectives from proposal:
The goals of this project are that farmers and ranchers:
- Learn how to establish native species best suited to the shade environment of different silvopasture systems to use as forage for livestock that will also serve as an attraction to pollinators.
- Learn the benefits of having established native forages in silvopasture.
- Are able to use these newly learned practices into action to incorporate pollinator-friendly species into their own existing forage-livestock systems.
- Consider managing their existing timber land to develop a silvopasture system for improved land management and livestock use.