Wednesday, April 6, 2016

New Study Considers Combining Livestock And Forestry

A longhorn steer in a forest near Schroon Lake (photo by John Warren).A Paul Smith’s College professor and his student landed a new peer-reviewed journal article in the international scientific journal Agroforestry Systems.

Joseph Orefice, professor of forestry, and Leanne Ketner, a senior majoring in integrative studies at Paul Smith’s, investigated the use of silvopasture on farms in the Northeastern United States. The practice, which had never been documented in the region before, integrates livestock and trees within the same pasture, providing shelter and forage for the livestock while maximizing the use of the trees as productive and healthy crops.

To conduct the research, Orefice and Ketner investigated the structure, management and purpose of silvopastures in New York State and New England through a series of interviews and inventories of 20 different farms. They focused only on farms that produced trees as crops and raised livestock on the same land.

Most of the farmers interviewed said that their livestock received more shelter and had more grass to eat during droughts. On these same lands, farmers were able to harvest timber, firewood, fruit, nuts and maple sugar from the very same trees that provided benefits to livestock. However, the research also identified areas in need of better management, such as the long-term keeping of pigs in wooded areas, which is not a silvopasture practice.

John Caroll and Drew Conroy, Orefice’s colleagues from the University of New Hampshire, were coauthors on the study. They received financial support from the Northeastern States Research Cooperative.

To read the full journal article, click here.

Photo: A longhorn steer in a forest near Schroon Lake (photo by John Warren).


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4 Responses

  1. Markms says:

    This is termed new?????

    • Paul says:

      Replace the term “livestock” with “wild game” and it sound like my hunting club? Wild animals have evolved to live sustainably in that type of environment. Just eat deer they are better for you anyway.

  2. Paul says:

    Good idea & worth developing but with one warning: be sure to attach to the live stock safety orange, especially during hunting season.

  3. Mark says:

    I was employed for years as a resource manager for the U.S. Forest Service in New Mexico and California, where livestock is common on grazing allotments, including forests and wilderness areas, on federal lands. I will say I would be extremely cautious with this idea. The amount of damage livestock do to water, soil, spreading invasive species through manure, sensitive plant and animal communities and other resources can be very extensive. Livestock change the very nature of a forest. I understand this study and proposal is for private lands, but damage to water, soil and plants and animals impacts more than just the land owner. Before approving such a plan I would strongly encourage any landowner considering it to look at how this practice has affected areas in the west. Of course this all depends on the land owner’s management objective, but there could be serious unforeseen consequences you would want to consider.

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