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Author Topic: Silvopasture  (Read 1524 times)

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Offline Don P

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Silvopasture
« on: June 01, 2018, 06:52:38 PM »
I'm curious what y'all's take is on this as far as timber and grazing,
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2018/05/30/carbon-farming/

Offline Texas Ranger

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Re: Silvopasture
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2018, 07:04:07 PM »
The old term is agroforestry, lots of southerners use this technique. It takes attention to set up, not fence it and turn em out.  Helps reduce fertilizer costs in plantations.
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Offline Southside logger

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Re: Silvopasture
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2018, 10:14:45 PM »
Don,

If you are over my way give me a shout, this is how we run our dairy herd and by far it produces the best grazing we have.  Last fall was quite dry and I did not irrigate like I should have on our open ground pastures, the savanah areas saved my butt over the winter with stockpiled forage that resulted from the retained ground moisture.  When we first began to establish this I figured I would only be able to graze these areas in July and August, but that is not the case at all, the grass root matt structure has firmed up the soil nicely and I can graze in there without pugging the ground pretty much any time.

Plenty of folks have told me it does not work, including all the govt and university employed forestry experts, extension, etc.  I was told the cows hoof compaction will kill the leave trees, the urine will kill the oaks, the cows will tear the bark off, etc.  The only trees we have lost are the ash, and the cows did not kill those.  They have however decimated the poison ivy, raised up the lower limb canopy around the field edges, and increased the rabbit, song bird, and turkey population on the farm.  A few limb sprouts on red oak and poplars, but that is limited to within 25 yards of a field edge, to me the annual income far outweighs any future log value that is lost due to a drop in grade.  

Additionally the cows will consume the leaves off any volunteer trees, and coppice sprouts, they will often go for those before they grab the clover and grass when first moving it to a new area, poplar, and maple are a favorite, this keeps me from having to address these.

It works as a system if you manage it, if you just fence in the cows and turn them loose I suspect you would end up with a train wreck.  One additional bonus is that my woods look a lot like a park now.  

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Offline Don P

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Re: Silvopasture
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2018, 10:26:31 PM »
That's interesting. I have a low opinion of the practice but it is from letting the cows run in the woods. What I've noticed from that practice is lots of frost checks, I assume from root damage then bacterial wetwood, hare holes, hollow trees... me looking at the woods and laying blame on their feet. There are some paddocks on the farm I'm working on that are too steep or rocky to hay and it is a thought. How are you establishing and maintaining the trees?

Offline Texas Ranger

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Re: Silvopasture
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2018, 12:12:20 AM »
Southside, exactly, it is a management problem, not, like I said, fence it and turn em out.  Overgrazing kills the land.
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Offline Southside logger

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Re: Silvopasture
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2018, 12:25:13 AM »
It's actually areas I have select harvested, I try to leave a 60' opening between crowns to allow for some direct sun, some in-direct, and some shade each day in the summer.  More sun in the non leaf season obviously.  Planted heavy to rye, orchard grass, and clover, with the cooler soil and moisture I find the cool season grasses do quite well in there.  

To me it's not just a run in for shade or cover, so I manage it in the same manner as our other forages.  
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Silvopasture
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2018, 08:12:35 AM »
It reads like some youngster trying to reinvent the wheel and get paid for using big words and writing about something that is common wherever cattle farmers own both timbered and open land.  During the winter our cattle always migrated from primarily grazing in the pastures to foraging in the woods.  We never had to be concerned with wooded property line fences during the Summer, but they had to be closely maintained during the Winter.  Cattle go to where the food is.
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Offline chevytaHOE5674

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Re: Silvopasture
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2018, 10:29:35 PM »
A lot of it depends on the soils and species composition as well. Here we have heavy clay soils and if the cows are in there when it is anything but dusty dry they do extensive root damage and it causes lots of top dieback. I have "silvopasture" areas fenced and I probably lose 5% of my trees every year because the cows were in there after a heavy rain for one reason or another (to busy to move, surprise storm, etc) and the aspen and soft maple roots don't like it. Doesn't bother me much as my ultimate goal is to clear these areas over time.

Better drained soils with different species and the results would be much different.

Offline Southside logger

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Re: Silvopasture
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2018, 11:30:12 PM »
I have noticed that as the grass density increases over a few years the soil firms up quite a lot, it behaves completely differently than when it is bare and litter covered. 
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Enough cows to ensure there is no spare time.

Offline chevytaHOE5674

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Re: Silvopasture
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2018, 12:26:58 AM »
What I have is mostly grass covered and is firm enough for my feet but a herd of cows cuts thru it like a hot knife thru butter. My pastures are the same way when it rains it get chewed up and they are rougher than a cob. The grass takes this abuse and thrives on it, the trees not so much.

Like I said different soils and tree species will take it much differently. 

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Silvopasture
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2018, 01:40:02 AM »
Im not well versed enough to explain it all but the bacteria, microbes and fungus in a healthy, nutrient rich soil thats been built up by layers of organic matter is quite remarkable at fast drainage, resisting erosion, compaction and disturbance. 

Dry dusty lifeless sand-clay being basically the opposite. 
Revelation 3:20

Offline Ianab

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Re: Silvopasture
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2018, 04:55:02 AM »
Different climate  / trees etc make for different regimes that work.

Mixing cows and trees directly is problematic. There are scenarios that can work, but often you end up with dead or wrecked trees. Cows are just like that.

Now on a farm it's practical to grow trees, AND graze cattle. Fence off areas of marginal grazing, stream banks, even normal fence lines can be double fenced with some electric fencing and planted as "Timber belts" that provide shade and shelter to the livestock, and eventually produce some usable logs as well. Choose the trees, often a mix, that can provide both shelter and be pruned for good sawlog production. 

Thing is that at least locally no one has found an agroforestry regime that economically works better than "all grass" or "all trees". The trees slow the grass growth, or the spacing needed to keep grass growing means not enough trees. But using the "unproductive land", extra shelter and shade, and the general aesthetics can make up for that. 
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Offline TKehl

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Re: Silvopasture
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2018, 03:35:59 PM »
First, silvopasture and running cattle in the woods are frequently/most always very different, though I have some experience with both.
Second, as Southside logger and chevytaHOE pointed out, it is very dependent on local soils as well as tree species.  Definitely not one size fits all.
 
I can go back about 50-80 years on our farm.  It was logged sometime in the 30’s - 50’s and was once much more open than it is now.  Grandpa quit dairying around 1970 and got a job in town.  Since then, a lot of the ground that used to be savanna type pasture has filled in to become early-mid successional forest.  There are some VERY nice stands of Oak and Black Walnut, but most of the ground was unmanaged other than brush hogging the pastures that remained open.  (Still have about 15 acres of ERC to clear out…)   As a result, there is a lot of low grade junk.   :(
 
Though we may have lost some production from the cattle, the forage they got has made up for it.  Cattle love Hedge and Mulberry leaves.  Elm isn’t far behind.  (They’ve gotten us through more than one drought with the cows.)  The downsides are 1. the tree species mix is mostly low value and the woods are choked with multiflora rose, greenbriar, gooseberry, etc.  2.  The cattle tend to eat the grass, then rest and leave their manure in the shade.  This has seriously lowered the productivity of our pasture.
 
My plan:
  •  We’ve added goats to the mix.  They eat the stuff the cattle won’t like blackberry and rose bushes and only want about 15% of their diet in grass (about the opposite of a cow).  They also eat in the woods and lounge on hilltops, reversing the nutrient flow.  Additionally, I limb any leave trees up to around 10’ with a pole saw and any “no value” trees are hinge cut for the goats to feed on letting the goats pay me for the TSI.  In most cases, we are just encouraging the growth of valuable trees.  However, In some instances we are opening meadows  or small areas of savanna type environment to increase grass.  We have had excellent results on 12 acres so far.  We are expanding to the rest of the farm as the herd size grows (75 or so goats currently) and we can afford to upgrade the fencing.  Just turned out into a 15 acre pen and have been taking weekly pictures of brush condition.
  • We’ve started rotational grazing, kind of, after talking to dad about it for years.  Not seeing results yet, but it’s been overgrazed a long time…   ::)
  • We plan to plant some of our poorest pastures to wide rows of Black Locust and Autumn Olive.  Both of which fix nitrogen and offer forage the goats adore.  The Locust is great lumber (if straight), posts, and firewood.  The Olive provides some of the earliest spring forage in any abundance.  Would probably chop the Olive to the ground every 5 years or so with Black Locust on a longer rotation.
 
Eric knows his stuff.  I’ve listened to some of the interviews he’s done on various podcasts and I believe what he has to say.  Personally though, I’m more interested in how it can help my bottom line, but carbon sequestration sounds positive to.  Don, this could be the rocket fuel to really launch your charcoal emporium!  ;D
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Offline Texas Ranger

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Re: Silvopasture
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2018, 04:05:34 PM »
Hmm, back in the day at U of Mo, running goats in the woods was verboten.   Either things have changed, or they have changed goats.
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Offline TKehl

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Re: Silvopasture
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2018, 09:08:17 AM »
MU has changed.  Here's an article from the Agroforestry school newsletter showing brush control in woodlots using goats.  (Though with more caveats at the bottom than a drug commercial.)

http://agebb.missouri.edu/agforest/archives/v17n2/gh4.htm

I can say it is profitable, effective, and reduces the manual labor part of TSI.  They are hard on their lounging areas though, so it does require rotation, which should be done for parasite control anyway.  I like a mixed area with at least 10% open grass pasture.  I'm also picky about the type of goat.  I like high percentage Spanish, Fainter (Myotonic), and Kiko.  They handle the humid environment well.  Some % dairy and Pygmy is okay.  Very little Boer.  Forget any Angoras, they'd get tangled in the first sticker bush.

Now, the MO Dept. of Conservation is against any livestock in the woods.  This is why we haven't signed up for the MO Managed Woods program.  It has some nice perks, but would not offset the benefits of the goats in terms of reduced labor, not to mention profit from the goats.
Lucas 6-13+slabber, Mr. Sawmill bandmill, orange chainsaws, JD SSL, Case Backhoe, farm tractors, trailers, and 150ish acres of trees.  Fledgling woodshop with CNC router, laser engraver, Woodmaster 712, and a Berlin 108 moulder (project).  Oh, and a lovely (patient) wife and four offbearers.


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Silvopasture

Started by RynSmith on Forest Education

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Last post June 18, 2010, 02:15:29 PM
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