177,791 ha of woodlands in Minnesota, USA are grazed. Often these woodlands are not managed specifically for timber or cattle benefits. This lack of management often leads to decreased timber value and reduced forage yields. Silvopasture is a potential alternative to this lack of land management on Minnesota woodlots. Silvopasture is a type of agroforestry that intentionally combines trees, forage and livestock in an intensively-managed system. However, very limited information exists about silvopasture use in Minnesota. This three-year study (2013-2015) examines the potential for silvopasture success in Minnesota through comparing production of unmanaged woodland grazing, silvopasture and open pasture sites. The study collaborated with three farmers in Central Minnesota to assess these three grazing systems on their land. Silvopasture paddocks were established through thinning and seeding woodland areas. The study assessed forage production, forage quality, species diversity, and livestock performance. Forage production was generally greater in silvopasture systems compared to unmanaged woodland grazing systems, and forage quality was lower in open pasture systems, at least during the first year. Additionally, species diversity was typically lowest in open pasture systems, and comparable between silvopasture and woodland areas. Livestock performance was similar between the grazing systems. Results indicate that silvopasture has potential in Minnesota, but more research is needed to develop specific management guidelines as well as monitor silvopasture for longer periods of time.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. August 2016. Major: Natural Resources Science and Management. Advisors: Diomy Zamora, Dean Current. 1 computer file (PDF); 1x, 106 pages.
Expanding agroforestry in Minnesota, USA: assessing the potential for silvopasture as an alternative to passive woodland grazing.
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