According to University of Minnesota Extension, silvopasturing is a sustainable agroforestry practice where trees and forage crops are grown together on the same piece of land, and grazing animals eat the forages. The livestock provide annual income, and the trees may provide income after a while in the form of wood, nuts or other products. Silvopasture can provide economic and environmental benefits that complement regular forestry and open pasture production, such as shade for livestock and pasture, and habitat for birds and beneficial insects.
Silvopasturing may be old hat to some of you, but it’s not to most producers and landowners in Minnesota. According to Diomy Zamora of Extension, over 435,000 acres of wooded land is unmanaged and not utilized for forage and added income – and is therefore an unused food production resource. Diomy, along with colleague Gary Wyatt, SFA Board Chair Jim Chamberlin and others, presented a workshop in early June near Brainerd where research is comparing silvopasture to non-managed forest grazing.
I was lucky enough to take part and see on-the-ground differences in forest and pasture. SFA’s Central Chapter board member Vickie Kettlewell and her husband, Greg Booth, are cooperating producers who shared their silvopasturing experiences, pro and con, as part of the field day at their Sunup Ranch.
A silvopasturing workshop will also be held Aug. 4-5 in the Driftless region; see details in our Events Calendar on this and other workshops and field days designed to regenerate our food-producing resources on landscapes throughout the region.