Understanding Plant-Soil-Livestock Interactions: A Key to Enhanced Sustainability in Southern-Pine Silvopasture Systems

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2005: $120,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Southern
State: Alabama
Principal Investigator:
Mary Goodman
Auburn University

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bovine, goats, sheep


  • Animal Production: grazing - multispecies, pasture fertility
  • Crop Production: agroforestry, no-till, nutrient cycling
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, agricultural finance
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement
  • Pest Management: biological control, chemical control
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, sustainability measures


    A comparison of overseeded crimson clover with nitrogen fertilizer determined that forage productivity and forage and soil quality can improved, and nitrogen fertilizer additions replaced by maintenance of crimson clover in young (<7 yr old, unpruned) longleaf pine-bahiagrass silvopasture during the hay-production period of pasture to silvopasture conversion. Goats successfully suppressed invasive perennials in a woodland to silvopasture conversion. Simulation modeling determined that agroforestry practices decrease peak stream flows and peak surface runoff and increase water quality. Shade present in silvopasture appeared to reduce cattle heat stress associated with weather parameters that characterize warm-season portions of the grazing season.

    Project objectives:

    1. Determine the impacts of N supply fertilization versus clover) on above- and below-ground forage productivity, forage quality and plant diversity in young longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) silvopasture.
    2. Determine the impacts of N supply on pasture soil structural stability and relationships to soil compaction in young longleaf pine silvopasture.
    3. Compare the impact of goat stocking rates for control of invasive broadleaf plants within developing silvopasture systems.
    4. Examine the economic feasibility and level of landowner acceptance of management practices being proposed.
    5. Estimate effects of silvopasture management practices on watershed-level hydrology using the Hydrology Simulation Program-Fortran (HSPF).

    Additional Objectives Developed
    6. Characterization of microclimate and evapotranspiration within young and mature silvopasture versus open pasture landscapes.
    7. Objective led by PhD graduate student (directed by Dr. Mary Goodman):
    Quantify diurnal distribution and behavior of cattle in loblolly-pine (Pinus taeda) silvopasture versus open-pasture landscapes and relate forage production and quality and microclimatic differences to possible differences in cattle distribution and behavior between the landscapes

    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.