Please excuse my lack of knowledge on Silvopasture. Bear with me as I have some questions that may be a little "beginnerish.

My wife and I have begun thinning/clearing a wooded section of our property in preparation for our Silvopasture experiment. After clearing a quarter acre, and having decided what to do with all the slash, I realized that as our property is almost completely hardwood, I'm going to have a ton (literally) of fallen leaves to contend with. I know this sounds silly, but do I have to remove the leaves before I seed? I can't imagine seed sprouting well with the leaf cover but removing the leaves is going to be a pain. Also, we live in the western mountains of Maine and does anyone have any recommendations on forage mixes for our area. We will be pasturing a couple of horses, a couple of goats, free range chickens, and hopefully a couple of hogs next year.

Any input would be great fully appreciated.

Thanks

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Randal,

Dealing with the slash and leaf litter on the ground in recently thinned areas is a challenge.  Too much slash can be an impediment to the grazing animals, which are needed to help control the brush and weeds that want to come rushing into a recently disturbed wooded area.  The leaves can act as a mulch barrier and also need to be scuffed up somehow in order to allow grasses and forbs to germinate. Summer logging will usually provide adequate soil scarification.  As for the slash, I would attempt to lop the tree tops so that they're fairly close to the ground.  That way they'll break down more quickly and animals will be able to pass more freely through the tops.

In a commercial thinning (logging), the ideal scenario would be to harvest in the summer and remove the whole tree.  Chip markets exist in many, but not all parts of the Northeast - though whole tree harvests usually require larger acreages to be viable for the loggers.  Where whole tree harvesting isn't possible, attempt to concentrate the slash in windrows or piles.  See Jeff Jourdain's posts in the forum on how they're dealing with the slash in a silvopasture thinning in MA.

another option is to broadcast the seed then attempt to "hoof it in" with the animals during soft (but not too soft) ground conditions.  This may require giving them a little incentive to move around within the seeded area, like distributing hay across the site.  This would work better with a large herd of cattle than a few goats or sheep.

Short-term rotational pig grazing can also provide plenty of soil scarification.  See the posts on here about the Stone Barns Center and other pig grazing.

Thanks Brett. Tells me what I need to know. Got a bit of work to do I guess. Kinda'a figured.

Brett Chedzoy said:

another option is to broadcast the seed then attempt to "hoof it in" with the animals during soft (but not too soft) ground conditions.  This may require giving them a little incentive to move around within the seeded area, like distributing hay across the site.  This would work better with a large herd of cattle than a few goats or sheep.

Short-term rotational pig grazing can also provide plenty of soil scarification.  See the posts on here about the Stone Barns Center and other pig grazing.

Hi Randal, I'm just around the corner in Casco. Our lot was selectively cut 2 times in the last 5 years - not whole tree and not well windowed. I'm probably going to price renting a tracked skidsteer with a rock bucket with grapple to help collect the slash. Then put most through 6 inch chipper to use as mulch/bedding. Any large limbs save aside for our firewood. For the thick brambles/raspberries undesirable forages, intensively graze some short shouted pigs (IPPs) to work that stuff and scarify the leaf litter and topsoil. Being careful to avoid big muddy wallows and scorched earth compaction. Spread a cool season mix by hand then bale graze our sheep/goats for extra seeds and seed mulch/cover. Allowing the sheep to hoof in the seeds.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

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