The Devon Silvopasture Network Is Embarking On A 12-Year Trial, Involving Six Farms Alongside A Dedicated Research Farm, To Facilitate The Strategic Incorporation Of Trees Into Their Livestock Operations. The Basic Principles Remind Me Of Food Forests.

This Silvopasture Research trial encompasses a diverse array of planting methods, including cluster planting, standardised spacing, and the establishment of shelterbelts. It’s noteworthy that there has been limited recent research conducted on the effects of silvopasture systems in the United Kingdom. Consequently, farmers are seeking concrete evidence demonstrating the potential return on investment. Such evidence is crucial to rationalise the substantial financial commitment required to transition pastureland into silvopasture setups.

Devon Sylvopasture research Attribution:
Sheep browsing in The Orchard, Chiselborough by Steve Barnes, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

However, there are similarities with the way orchards and food forests were previously managed in the county. Chicken, sheep and pigs gazing in orchards was common 70-100 years ago and was a form of sylvopasture management I’d like to see return.

Research into Devon Silvopasture Management

https://youtu.be/ZviPmeSSBQo?si=-tMueXJ1M4mk4wCP

Defining Silvopasture

In case you are still uncertain about silvopasture here is a simple explanation.

Silvopasture, deriving its name from the Latin “silva,” meaning forest, is a sustainable agricultural practice that harmoniously integrates trees, forage crops, and the controlled grazing of domesticated animals.[1] This approach aligns with the principles of managed grazing and represents one of the distinctive forms of agroforestry.

When properly managed, silvopasture, often referred to as grazed woodland, offers the potential to enhance overall productivity and long-term income by concurrently yielding tree crops, forage resources, and livestock. Furthermore, it carries the added advantage of environmental benefits. Silvopasture, steeped in a historical legacy spanning many regions globally, stands in clear contrast to unregulated grazing practices within woodlands.

Cattle in silvopasture setting
Tag: Silvopasture Research
Image Attribution: Sheep browsing in The Orchard, Chiselborough by Steve Barnes, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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