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Agroforestry: Silvo-pasture options

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February 26, 2020 - Author: and ,

What is Agroforestry

Agroforestry defined: a natural resource management system that, through the integration of trees on farms and in the agricultural landscape, diversifies and sustains production for increased social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at all levels.

Silverpasture

Agroforestry defined: a natural resource management system that, through the integration of trees on farms and in the agricultural landscape, diversifies and sustains production for increased social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at all levels.

Grazing terminology

  • Grazing period: how long animals remain in a single paddock
  • Rest Period: how long a paddock can regrow before being grazed again
  • Stocking rate: The number of animals or animal live weight assigned to an entire grazing unit on a seasonal basis.
  • Stocking Density:  The number of animals or animal live weight assigned to a specific pasture area at a specific point in time.
  • Carrying capacity:  The stocking rate that provides a target level of performance while maintaining the integrity of the resource base. 

Two types of grazing management

  • Set Stocking or Continuous Grazing – livestock eat where and when they want
  • Rotational Grazing – farm or rancher controls where and when livestock graze an area of land
    • Simple rotational grazing
    • Management Intensive Grazing (MiG)
    • High Stock Density or Ultra High Stock Density Grazing (a.k.a. MOB Grazing)
    • Adaptive Multi Paddock Grazing (AMP)

Why consider rotational grazing

  • *Over 80% of the pastures in the Midwest suffer from: poor or uneven fertility, weed, and erosion problems
  • Most pastures are continuously grazed
    • Lowest possible yield
  • Plants are not allowed to recuperate
  • Lack of mgt. makes pastures a poor forage source
  • So producers are reluctant to rely on pastures to feed their livestock 

Set Stocking or Continuous Grazing

Positives

  • Stay in same pasture for 90 days or more
  • Easy – no moving, only need one source for water
  • Can have decent gains at lower stocking rates

Negatives

  • Decrease in pasture productivity
  • Concentration of nutrients in certain areas
  • Can lead to increased runoff and erosion
  • Can lead to additional costs for reseeding

Demonstration plots

  • Agroforestry rotations such as silvopasture and alley cropping have not been explored, to our knowledge, in Michigan
  • According to 2012 Ag Census (NASS), there are over 110,000 acres of wooded pastures in Michigan 
  • Evaluation from January 2019 programs showed the greatest response to barriers was the lack of knowledge and the need for demonstration sites across the state (listed 46 times)
  • Objectives:
    • Evaluate performance of four (Red & White Clover, Orchardgrass, and Tall Fescue) forage species based on yield and quality
    • Evaluate performance of four mixtures based on yield and quality

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Tags: agriculture, beginning farmer livestock, beginning farmer webinar series, beginning farmer woodlot, farm management, msu extension


Related Topic Areas

Beginning Farmer Webinar Series, Agriculture, Farm Management


Authors

Julie Crick

Julie Crick
crickjul@msu.edu

Kable Thurlow

Kable Thurlow
thurlowk@msu.edu

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