Motivation, Scale, and Production Features of Silvopasture Among Early Adopters in the Southeastern U.S.
Silvopasture is an intensive land management practice that involves the intentional integration of trees, livestock, and forages under one management unit. Employing silvopasture practices provides short-term and long-term economic benefits to the producer, while improving the environment through carbon sequestration, water holding, improving soil conditions, and providing aesthetics. Alabama and Georgia have long growing seasons, a diverse population of plant species, and forest areas which could potentially make ideal areas for more silvopasture adoption. The purpose of this case study is to understand the perception and motivations behind silvopasture adoption among early adopters by developing an in-depth analysis of the motivation, scale, and production measures from the perspective of producers in this region. Four candidates managing silvopasture were interviewed through teleconferencing and their responses to the series of questions were documented. The results showed very diverse livestock operations within the silvopasture system such as goat production, cow-calf, organic dairy farming, and cow-calf with stocker cattle. Establishment though thinning existing woodland areas was performed by all producers, with one planting hardwoods also. Utilizing land area and environmental health appeared to be a strong motivation amongst most producers. Results coincided with previous studies performed that showed the most challenges came from managing invasives, forage species for optimal yields and lack of information or resources available. Aesthetics was highly valued amongst all producers, with several producers mentioning using the system for future agribusiness endeavors. All producers were satisfied with their decision to establish silvopasture, while only two stated they would continue to dedicate more land area to silvopasture in the future.