Choosing Ground Cover For Silvo-Pasture Systems

Silvo pasture is a great strategy for sustainable livestock farming. It simply involves integrating trees into pasture landscape design. The trees may be orchard trees which provide additional yields from the land. Or they may be native trees chosen to enrich the soil, boost biodiversity, or simply to provide shade for the livestock below.

Many different types of livestock can successfully be integrated into silvo-pasture agroforestry schemes. From sheep, to goats, to pigs to poultry… But one of the major challenges in any such system lies in maintaining the sward, or ground cover across the tree-clad pasture.

Each situation is different, and requires a somewhat different ground cover/ forage solution. But here are some of the things that you should bear in mind:

  • The livestock to be integrated and their grazing habits.
  • Plants best for the well-being of grazing/ foraging animals.
  • Climate, soil quality, water availability and other environmental factors.
  • And how quickly the ground cover will grow/ regrow.
  • The degree of shade cover/ canopy cover on the site.

Whichever livestock you keep, and whichever forage mix/ ground cover you choose, it is of course also important to make sure there is a good rotation system in place, to avoid grazing the area down to bare soil. Of course, you also have to have the right stocking density for your particular situation.

But while it is important to bear these other things in mind too – a good pasture/ forage mix is an essential part of the puzzle to get right.

If you would like to implement a silvo-pasture agroforestry approach on your farm, or improve the sward in your existing system, I may well be able to help. Please do reach out so we can discuss your particular situation. This is area where research is ongoing. But there are a lot of lessons we have already learned. I can help you integrate your farming practices and take a more sustainable approach.

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