Silvopasture/Agroforestry System

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Silvopasture is a sustainable agroforestry system where trees, forages, and grazing animals are intentionally integrated and managed for economic, environmental, and social benefits. It is different than animal grazing the understory vegetation in forest. Silvopasture involves management of all three components in such a way that optimizes the benefits of the whole system and minimizes the negative effects of one component over others. As trees require several years to be ready for marketable products, one has to wait for a long time to get income from the forest monoculture.
However, a silvopasture system offers both long-term and short-term income opportunities. Livestock and forage components serve as regular short-term income sources while waiting for the tree component to be ready for sale. Moreover, there are prospects for alternative income from hunting and wildlife tourism as silvopasture system attracts wildlife for food and shelter. Higher tree growth and development can occur in silvopasture as there will be lower tree density than in sole-tree plantations. Faster growth of trees in silvopasture is also facilitated by the removal of ground vegetation through grazing, and supply of nutrients from liming and fertilization of forage crops present in the system. When legume forages are introduced into the system, more nitrogen would be available for trees to support faster growth because of legumes’ nitrogen fixing ability. Moreover, grazing animals utilize understory vegetation and recycle nutrients back to the system through feces and urine thereby supporting plant fertilization. Grazing utilizes and maintains understory vegetation, and minimizes or eliminates the need of mechanical or chemical method of weed control. This saves money and promotes environmental quality. Moreover, trees provide natural shelter to grazing animals against extreme environmental conditions such as high heat and strong wind.
• Educational Materials
- Silvopasture Introduction
- Forage selection, establishment, and management in silvopasture (Publication)
• Research highlights
• Useful links
- http://www.centerforagroforestry.org/practices/sp.php
• Pictures