- Fruits: persimmon
- Additional Plants: trees
- Crop Production: silvopasture
- Education and Training: farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, technical assistance
Problem, Novel Approach and Justification
CBF is looking afresh at an ancient practice that has seemingly dropped from common use. Silvopasture offers an opportunity to improve animal comfort and performance, protect environmental resources, create more appealing landscapes, and diversify farm resources and income. Many landowners can perceive these benefits, however, managing these landscapes simultaneously for healthy trees, forage, and livestock is a challenge. In addition to the added complexity is the lack of information on how to design with trees to compliment the farm, and how to effectively get trees established in working pastures.
Information on designing silvopasture for farmers’ needs, within their budget and within the context of their landscape is lacking. To achieve the real economic and ecological benefits that come from silvopasture, it is imperative to develop a much more cost-effective means of tree establishment.
Hypothesis or Question and Research Plan
Question: How to get productive trees established in active pastures given predation and livestock damage, with limited financial resources and different types of forage and soils?
Eight tree-planting methods will be tested on 5 farms. Each farm will plant 30 bareroot trees/acre on 4 acres – a total of 600 trees, 20 acres. A baseline will be conducted on each farm, with 4 randomly collected samples for soil measuring micronutrients, infiltration, carbon, organic matter, and forage identification plots. These tests will be done once in April 2020 and once in April 2023. Survival rates, tree height and caliper, damage to trees will be recorded over 3 years in the Spring of each year while conducting maintenance.
Additionally, costs of each method will be tracked: 1) Site preparation (equipment, labor, and cost of herbicide) 2) Seedling cost 3) Labor associated with planting; and 4) Fencing, metal and plastic shelters, and mulch materials. All these factors will be considered to determine the relative cost-effectiveness of each method and allow farmers to weigh which methods will best fit their context.
We will work with the farmers and share their motivations, experiences, challenges and successes over the three years through video. We will compile a series of how-to educational videos that will provide support and help guide decisions for other farmers interested in this practice. We will also conduct annual pasture walks, three over the grant period, to encourage farmer-to-farmer education and connections.
This project will test 8 different establishment techniques of bareroot trees in pasture on 5 farms over 3 years, tracking cost and survival rates, establishing a baseline for soil, forage quality and types, and comparing results. This information will inform producers on how best to begin integrating silvopasture into their farm systems.
Performance targets from proposal:
Silvopasture is a unique but underused integration of trees within a farm system. Most farmers recognize the benefits of trees for livestock but are not aware of how to establish cost-effectively. This project will test 8 establishment techniques of trees in pasture on 5 farms over 3 years, tracking cost, survival rates, establishing a baseline for soil, forage quality and types, and comparing results. This will inform producers on how best to begin integrating silvopasture.