Silvopasture is the symbiotic integration of livestock grazing and forest management. This is done by strategically planting trees into a conventional, treeless, grazing pasture or by thinning a wooded forest so that livestock can graze beneath its canopy.
Why should we be doing it?
Silvopasture provides ample windbreaks and shade, increasing yield. Generally, intensive silvopasture methods more than doubles the production of milk and protein on the same area of land.
Silvopasture methods also reduces exposure to stress, which has been shown to affect the quality of meat.
The leaves of many trees can also either be eaten by livestock or they produce nuts, such as acorns and walnuts, removing the need for farmers to buy external feed for their stock.
Silvopasture land produces five to ten times more carbon from the atmosphere than treeless land of the same size.
One study of intensive silvopasture in Colombia found that emissions from livestock were less than half of the carbon sequestered in soil and biomass. This is because both the trees and the soil capture carbon.
Livestock also control weeds and their manure provides fertiliser, thereby reducing the need to use synthetic fertiliser, herbicides and pesticides.
Also, because a high tree density improves soil health, moisture and mitigates erosion, the overall resilience of the land increases over time. Most grasses will actually do better and produce more digestible feed when shaded as well.
In Australia, Silvopasture was developed in 1970 and currently practiced on 200,000 hectares.
Lastly we want to note that as responsible individuals that eat every day, we can make daily decisions to reduce meat intake and dairy intake, and as a collective, can significantly mitigate climate change.
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