silvopasture practices and perspectives in the northeastern us

posted March 16, 2016

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The use of silvopasture systems on farms in the Northeastern United States has never been documented. Our objective was to gather baseline data to describe silvopasture practices and perspectives in the Northeastern United States. To accomplish this, we investigated the structure, management of, and reasons for use of silvopastures in New York state and New England through a series of interviews and inventories on 20 farms purposefully chosen as practicing silvopasture. Thematic content analysis was conducted to summarize interview results and identify trends related to silvopasture practices. Three farmers in this study had been practicing silvopasture on their farms over 30 years; the rest were new to silvopasture in the past 10 years. Only three of 20 farmers interviewed in this study had experience practicing silvopasture prior to implementing it on their farms. Forest conversion to silvopasture was the primary starting point for silvopastures observed on regional farms. Orchard, open field edge, outdoor living barn, and plantation silvopastures were also documented on multiple farms. Shade and a desire to maximize use of farm woodlands were primary reasons for silvopasture utilization. This research provides evidence that silvopastures are being used to diversify regional farms. For the practice to be advanced in the region further research is needed on the topic.

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