- Agronomic: general hay and forage crops, grass (misc. perennial), hay
- Additional Plants: trees
- Animal Production: feed/forage
- Crop Production: agroforestry, forestry, intercropping, nutrient cycling, tissue analysis
- Production Systems: holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems
Silvopasture, one of the major agroforestry practices, is becoming increasingly popular in the southeastern U.S. because of potential to improve cash flow of small farming operations and many environmental benefits. Silvopasture combines tree, forage and livestock production and is usually established by planting trees in existing improved pastures. This project tests feasibility of silvopasture establishment after first commercial thinning of mid-rotation loblolly pine plantations. Such conversions could provide farmers and ranchers with an alternative to conventional pine plantation management half way through tree rotation length. In addition, we test a hypothesis that silvopastures reduce soil nitrate-nitrogen leaching compared with traditional pine plantations and open pastures. If corroborated, this would further substantiate often-made claims that agroforestry practices are more environmentally sustainable than forest or agricultural monocultures. Tree growth, forage yield and quality in relation to light conditions under thinned pine canopies, and tree nutritional status are also measured to quantify silvopasture production in comparison to conventionally thinned pine plantation and open pastures. Project outcomes are relevant to small and medium size farm operators who want to diversify agricultural production systems in an environmentally sensitive ways.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Determine differences in soil nitrate-nitrogen leaching among silvopasture, conventionally thinned loblolly pine plantation and open pasture. Determine effects of silvopasture fertilization for forage production on tree nutrition.