Enhancing the Ecological and Socioeconomic Benefits of Silvopasture Systems in Washington State through Participatory Research and Education

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2020: $24,998.00
Projected End Date: 11/01/2022
Host Institution Award ID: G151-21-W7902
Grant Recipient: Washington State Univeristy
Region: Western
State: Washington
Graduate Student:
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Marcia Ostrom
School of Environment, Washington State University
Principal Investigator:
Mark Batcheler
Washington State Univeristy
Lynne Carpenter-Boggs
Washington State University
Dr. Mark Swanson
Washington State Univeristy


  • Additional Plants: trees
  • Animals: bovine
  • Animal Products: meat


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, grazing - rotational, rangeland/pasture management
  • Crop Production: agroforestry, forest/woodlot management, silvopasture
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, technical assistance, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, new enterprise development, risk management, value added, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: other, soil stabilization
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: community development, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, quality of life, social networks, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    The agroforestry practice of silvopasture seeks to integrate profitable timber and livestock production while enhancing natural ecosystems. Our project uses mixed social and natural science research methods to explore the use of silvopasture systems by cattle producers in Washington State. In addition to its potential to diversify farm income, silvopasture research is critical for this region because of the prevalence of cattle grazing on forested lands and the potential for well-managed silvopasture systems to reduce wildfire severity. In spite of its potential, the dynamics of silvopasture systems are poorly understood in the Pacific Northwest. Our project aims to address this knowledge gap through participatory research and education with producers. Our first phase of research uses personal interviews and farm visits to investigate producer goals for their mixed timber and pasture areas in order to identify priorities and barriers to implementation of silvopasture systems. Our second phase of research partners with producers who are already practicing silvopasture to examine its performance utilizing both field research and interview data. The final project phase employs collaborative and experiential on-farm learning approaches led by producer hosts to demonstrate research findings and share practices, augmented by a variety of publications and electronic media to share results among farmers and agricultural professionals and to address the informational needs identified in phase one. Expected outcomes are the identification of barriers to silvopasture implementation, new knowledge about the ecological and socioeconomic dimensions of silvopasture, contributions to the academic and extension literature, and, ultimately, producer innovations and improved practices. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    (1) Determine the ecological, social, and economic goals of cattle producers for their mixed grazing and timber lands

    (2) Work with producer practitioners to assess the ecological and socioeconomic impacts of their existing silvopasture systems

    (3) Identify barriers to implementation and maintenance of managed silvopasture systems

    (4) Collaboratively share knowledge and results among current and potential producer practitioners, agricultural and forestry professionals, and scientists

    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.