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Silvopasture

Silvopasture is the deliberate integration of trees and grazing livestock operations on the same land. These systems are intensively managed for both forest products and forage, providing both short- and long-term income sources.

Well-managed silvopastures employ agronomic principals, typically including introduced or native pasture grasses, fertilization and nitrogen-fixing legumes, and rotational grazing systems that employ short grazing periods that maximize vegetative plant growth and harvest. The annual grazing income helps cash flow the tree operation while the tree crop matures and creates easy access if and when the trees or tree products are harvested. While these systems can require a number of management activities, the benefits can make it worthwhile.

Silvopasture diagram showing management inputs on the left and results on the right.
From "Forest Grazing, Silvopasture, and Turning Livestock into the Woods, Agroforestry Note #46, Silvopasture #9".
Silvopasture systems are created by introducing forage into a woodland or tree plantation or by introducing trees into a pasture. Rotational grazing is a key management activity when using silvopasture in order to minimize damage to trees. Special considerations and planning must also be taken into account for long-term tree regeneration.

Chickens in the shade of a row of trees in a corn field.
Even chickens can enjoy the benefits of silvopasture systems.
(Photo courtesy of Main Street Project).
Cattle grazing among scattered young pine trees.
Silvopasture can help reduce heat-stress, which improves animal performance and well-being.
(USDA National Agroforestry Center Photo)

Potential livestock choices include: cattle, sheep, goats, horses, turkeys, chickens, ostriches, emu, rhea, or game animals such as bison, deer, elk, caribou, etc. Trees can supply valuable fodder or mast such as acorns and honey locust pods for livestock. One of the main advantages of silvopasture systems is reducing heat stress in livestock, which improves animal performance and well-being. It is important to note that not every pasture in a livestock enterprise needs to be a silvopasture to take advantage of the benefits of this integrated system.

Silvopastures can increase wildlife diversity (e.g., quail, turkey) and improve water quality. The forage protects the soil from water and wind erosion, while adding organic matter to improve soil properties. Silvopastures provide an attractive landscape with an aesthetically pleasing “park-like” setting.

Information Sheets

  • Infosheet

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    How Can Agroforestry Help Landowners Adapt To Increased Rain Intensity?

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  • Infosheet

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    How Can Agroforestry Help Pollinators?

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  • Infosheet

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    How Can Agroforestry Practices And Approaches Support Green Infrastructure?

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  • Infosheet

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    How Can Agroforestry Help Landowners Adapt To Climate Change?

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  • Infosheet

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    Is Converting CRP To Silvopasture Right For You?

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  • Infosheet

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    Mitigating Heat Stress In Cattle

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  • Infosheet

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    What Is Silvopasture?

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  • Infosheet

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    ¿Qué Es Agroforestería?

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  • Infosheet

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    Mitigando El Estrés Por Calor En Ganado

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  • Infosheet

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    What Are Agroforestry's Income Opportunities

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  • Infosheet

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    What Is Agroforestry?

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Brochures

Inside Agroforestry

  • Inside Agroforestry

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    So Many Trees To Choose From

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Why Agroforestry?

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Why Agroforestry? Part 2

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Learn How You Can Use Agroforestry To Help Pollinators

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    25th Anniversary

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Finding Agroforestry In The 2014 Farm Bill

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Locally Sourced

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Helping Wildlife Helps You!

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Many Paths To Success

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Extreme Weather

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Scoring Big With Silvopasture

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Now Is The Time For Agroforestry!

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Small, But Mighty

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Beyond The Fence Line

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Sweet On Silvopasture

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    A Diverse Portfolio

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Wildlife Adds Punctuation To The Novel Of Life

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    2002 Farm Bill

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Fire And Silvopasture

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Fall/Winter 1999-2000

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Verano 1998

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Summer 1998

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Fall 1996

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Summer 1996

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  • Inside Agroforestry

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    Fall 1992

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Agroforestry Notes

  • Agroforestry Note

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    An Overview Of Agroforestry

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  • Agroforestry Note

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    Forest Grazing, Silvopasture, And Turning LIvestock Into The Woods

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  • Agroforestry Note

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    Pine Straw: A Profitable Agroforestry Enterprise

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  • Agroforestry Note

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    Silvopasture Tree Pruning

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  • Agroforestry Note

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    Silvopasture Water And Fencing Systems For Cattle

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  • Agroforestry Note

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    Silvopasture And Eastern Wild Turkey

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  • Agroforestry Note

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    Converting A Pasture To A Silvopasture In The Pacific Northwest

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  • Agroforestry Note

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    De Un Bosque De Pino Hacia Un Sistema Silvopastoril

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  • Agroforestry Note

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    From Pine Forest To A Silvopasture System

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  • Agroforestry Note

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    From A Pasture To A Silvopasture System

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  • Agroforestry Note

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    The Biology Of Silvopastoralism

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  • Agroforestry Note

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    Silvopastoreo: Una Práctica Agroforestal

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  • Agroforestry Note

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    De Sistemas Pastoriles A Silvopastoriles

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  • Agroforestry Note

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    Silvopasture: An Agroforestry Practice

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  • Agroforestry Note

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    Biología Silvopastoril

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Research

  • Research

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    High-resolution Land Cover Of Kansas

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  • Research

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    Diseases Of Trees In The Great Plains

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  • Research

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    A Win-win On Agricultural Lands: Creating Wildlife Habitat Through Agroforestry

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  • Research

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    Analyzing The Uncertainties In Use Of Forest-derived Biomass Equations For Open-grown Trees In Agricultural Land

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  • Research

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    A Role For Agroforestry In Forest Restoration In The Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley

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  • Research

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    Branching Out: Agroforestry As A Climate Change Mitigation And Adaptation Tool For Agriculture

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  • Research

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    Enhancing Ecosystem Services: Designing For Multifunctionality

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  • Research

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    Carbon Sequestration In Agricultural Lands Of The United States

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  • Research

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    Creatively Communicating Conservation Complexity

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  • Research

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    Filling The Gap: Improving Estimates Of Working Tree Resources In Agricultural Landscapes

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    Agroforestry: Working Trees For Sequestering Carbon On Agricultural Lands

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  • Research

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    Managing Agricultural Landscapes For Environmental Quality: Strengthening The Science Base

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  • Research

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    Perennial Crops For Bio-fuels And Conservation

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    Developing And Extending Sustainable Agriculture: A New Social Contract

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  • Research

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    Visualizing Agroforestry Alternatives Or Pixel This!

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    Tool Time: Melding Watershed And Site Goals On Private Lands

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    Visualizing Food And Farm

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    Picture This

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  • Research

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    Agroforestry-Working Trees For Sequestering Carbon On Ag-Lands

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  • Research

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    Inventorying Trees In Agricultural Landscapes: Towards An Accounting Of Working Trees

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  • Research

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    Computer-based Tools For Decision Support In Agroforestry: Current State And Future Needs

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  • Research

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    CBD Technical Series No. 10 - Interlinkages Between Biological Diversity And Climate Change

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  • Research

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    Agroforestry And GIS: Achieving Land Productivity And Environmental Protection

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    Agroforestry: Mapping The Way With GIS

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  • Research

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    Ecobelts: Reconnecting Agriculture And Communities - Case Studies

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    Ecobelts: Reconnecting Agriculture And Communities

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  • Research

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    An Ecological Foundation For Temperate Agroforestry

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  • Research

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    Perspective: Agroforestry And Sustainability: Making A Patchwork Quilt

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More Publications

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    Guide To USDA Agroforestry Research Funding Opportunities

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    Inspirations For Creating A Long-Term Agricultural Lease For Agroforestry: A Workbook

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    Profitable Farms And Woodlands

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    Silvopasture Handbook

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  • More Publications

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    RC & D Survey Of Agroforestry Practices

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    Agroforestry In The United States: Research And Technology Transfer Needs For The Next Millenium

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    Integrating Agroforestry Into USDA Programs

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    Working Trees Coloring Book

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/nac/practices/silvopasture.php