Good Food News - Silvopasture
One of the newest methods to expand farm and ranch outputs while also building carbon capture is called “silvopasture”. Civil Eats digs into the story here.
We know that trees absorb and hold large amounts of carbon as they grow. When the area they are grown on isn't great for growing crops, it can be used for grazing and foraging animals, like cows, sheep, pigs, and goats, and that carbon capture becomes even more powerful. Agricultural-based climate solutions such as silvopasture could provide much-needed climate benefits if more land utilizes this method. What that adds up to is animals, trees, and foragers working together to regenerate the soil and climate and creating a sustainable, financially viable farm.
No one really knows how much land in the U.S. is currently devoted to silvopasture. If more American farmers learn about silvopasture’s positive qualities, a positive environmental and financial gain is possible.
Steve Gabriel is an agroforestry specialist at Cornell University’s Small Farms Program, and has first-hand experience with silvopasture on his 35-acre operation outside Ithaca, New York. In the five years since they began working what was depleted, degraded, and unproductive hay land the farm has seen a transformation of "the soil and the vegetation, with increases in organic matter and a big shift in soil biology—from the bacteria-dominated soils you get in open pasture to the fungi-dominated soils you get when you bring in trees. And the animals do all the work.”
Silvopasture isn't a one-size-fits-all fix. Yet it is a start that can be a major benefit to farmers, ranchers, and our climate.