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Here's a link to the latest paper my colleagues and I have published on silvopasture.
"Soil and understory plant dynamics during conversion of forest to silvopasture, open pasture, and woodlot" in Agroforestry Systems
Thanks, Joe, for sharing your research paper.
I was curious about a couple of things. In the silvopasture treatments, did you fence off any of the trees to prevent damage or was the entire plot open and available for grazing?
Also, were there any significant differences in temperature and perception in 2013 and 2014? If one year had higher temperatures and/or wetter conditions compared to the other year, could that have influenced N and P availability?
I did not fence off any trees, the whole plot was open for grazing. However, livestock were only in each paddock for a maximum of 2 days with at least a 30 day rest period. Also, trees were about 60' tall and over 6" in diameter.
Temperature and precipitation were definitely different between 2013 and 2014 but we did not measure these. Both could influence nutrient dynamics but we were looking at treatment effects and not the functional mechanisms causing the treatment effects. It wasn't feasible for us to address moisture and temperature effects on pastures with only two years of data. There's now a study from UNH which is addressing some of these dynamics, results are TBD.
Thanks for the information. Have you continued to collect data from the plots beyond 2014?
My funding ran out in 2014 so I did not continue to collect data on these plots. However, I'm collaborating with the team from UNH and they have started to re-sample these plots in addition to collecting some new data. They've installed some weather stations so we'll have some reliable information on air and soil temp/moisture.
Excellent. Looking forward to the results.
There were no soil amendment treatments in the study, correct? As we learn more about growing forages under trees, it will be interesting to see how nutritional quality is influenced by available Ca, pH, excess aluminum and other limiting factors. I wouldn't expect to see quality forages growing in < 5 pH soil conditions. I suspect we'll learn that soil amendments are going to play a critical role in creating quality silvopastures on many forest soils.
There were no soil amendments added. This was intentional because I am also interested in the long-term change in pH as the site transitions to pasture. I expect pH will rise some but how much I really don't know.
There's no doubt that soil amendments will greatly improve forage success and production in pastures and silvopastures. Some forages will need them more then others as well. Legumes on the site seem to be fading out and I think that's largely due to pH.
I hope folks interpret this work as research and not a "how-to model" for forest conversion to silvopasture.
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