- Animals: bovine
- Animal Production: grazing management
- Crop Production: agroforestry, forest/woodlot management, silvopasture
- Education and Training: decision support system, networking
- Production Systems: agroecosystems
Silvopasture (integration of forage, livestock, and trees) benefits include increased economic diversity, and in many cases, improved animal performance with increased ecological services. Although there is interest in adopting silvopasture among livestock producers and resource professionals, the diversity of silvopasture systems and outcomes has generated a body of literature that is unable to provide robust and regionally-appropriate recommendations for silvopasture production. The majority of available literature focuses on designed silvopasture, where trees are planted into an existing pasture. Substantial opportunity exists to convert un-managed woodland property with selective thinning, invasive species management and understory development to a silvopasture, thereby potentially improving the ecological health and economic functionality of the area. Currently, there is little information available on silvopasture practices NCR states, particularly with respect to woodlands, and available silvopasture studies may not be meeting the needs of regional producers.
This project will begin methodically addressing the knowledge gaps that may be limiting
silvopasture understanding and adoption in NCR states by: 1) surveying livestock producers in Missouri to assess current woodland management and silvopasture practices and perceptions; 2) developing a silvopasture peer-learning network; 3) evaluating the ecosystem impacts of converting un-managed woodland to a silvopasture system; and 4) assessing the economics of conversion and estimated forage production to develop a theoretical financial decision-support tool for producers interested in adopting woodland silvopasture. Missouri ranks highest among NCR states for cow herd inventory and 34% of the state is forested, making it an ideal choice for surveying cow/calf producers’ and maximizing outreach impact for this type of silvopasture.
Through direct producer engagement, short-term project outcomes include increased knowledge of silvopasture adoption, management practices, and perceptions among livestock producers, as well as measured economic and ecological metrics of a native woodland silvopasture system. Long-term outcomes include wide-spread rehabilitation of un-managed woodlands to a healthy silvopasture and increased profitability of small-scale livestock producers.
Project objectives from proposal:
Specific objectives: 1) Assess current silvopasture practices and perceptions among grazing livestock producers in Missouri; 1a) Cultivate a peer-learning network of silvopasture practitioners in Missouri and connect to external networks; 2 and 2a) Assess the ecosystem impacts and economics of establishing a woodland silvopasture system to develop recommendations and a financial decision support tool for producers.
Learning outcomes: 1) Increased understanding of the current status of silvopasture practice in the state of Missouri including producer perceptions of benefits and barriers to silvopasture adoption; 2) Quantification of current economic and potential production metrics for a woodland silvopasture system in Missouri.