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Thinning forests or planting fields? Producer preferences for establishing silvopasture

Formally Refereed
Authors: Philadelphia Wilkens, John F. Munsell, John H. Fike, Gabriel J. Pent, Gregory E. Frey, Benjamin J. Addlestone, Adam K. Downing
Year: 2022
Type: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Southern Research Station
Source: Agroforestry Systems


Silvopasture is the intentional integration of trees, forages, and livestock. Benefits of this agroforestry practice include shade for livestock, nutritious forage, and reduced wind speed in pastures, as well as ecosystem services and tree products. The literature indicate that some livestock producers are interested in silvopasture, but little is known about their establishment preferences
and if they vary by demographics or operation type. This study hypothe- sized that producers are equally interested in planting trees in pastures (planting) and reducing forest canopy and planting forages (thinning) to establish silvopas- ture, and that the effects of the potential benefits of silvopasture on their preferences are similar. To test these hypotheses, 307 livestock producers in Virginia, United States of America were surveyed about whether they prefer planting or thinning. Producers also were asked about the extent to which potential benefits of silvopasture affect their preferences. Nearly 25% of the 139 respondents (response rate = 45%) were ‘very interested’ in thinning, compared to 8% for planting. Animal performance and welfare was their primary goal, but forest management and whole-farm productivity also were important. Guidelines are needed for maintaining stand health and productivity when thinning and for improving tree protection and growth in pastures when planting to establish


Adoption, Forest management, Tree planting, Livestock


Wilkens, Philadelphia; Munsell, John F.; Fike, John H.; Pent, Gabriel J.; Frey, Gregory E.; Addlestone, Benjamin J.; Downing, Adam K. 2022. Thinning forests or planting fields Producer preferences for establishing silvopasture. Agroforestry Systems. 96(3): 553-564.