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Agroforestry

In 2007, a 17-acre (7 ha) agroforestry demonstration project was established as an alley cropping system by Paul Mueller, Fred Cubbage, and others at CEFS’ Field Research and Outreach Facility in Goldsboro NC. The study was originally designed as a research and demonstration project to evaluate an alley cropping system of corn and soybeans in rotation between rows of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), longleaf pine (Pinus palustris), and cherrybark oak (Quercus pagoda). Initial funding support for the project came from annual Hatch Act funds and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Poor economic performance of grain crops during the first 6 years hastened the transition to a silvopasture design. (Cubbage et al., 2012; Agroforest. Syst. 86:323-334).

CEFS Silvopasture Experiment
CEFS Silvopasture Experiment

Objective

Evaluate production (timber, forage, livestock) and environmental (soil carbon and microbial activity, greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient cycling) responses to management.

Hypotheses

  • Shade of timber trees will improve animal performance and provide habitat for more diverse above- and below-ground ecology
  • Marginal cropland can be converted to multi-species timber and forage for specialty markets of added value (e.g. sustainable grazing systems, production from native plant species, biofuel production)
Alan Franzluebbers and members of the Soil Ecology and Management team collect baseline soil samples prior to pasture development in April 2014.

Dr. Alan Franzluebbers and members of the Soil Ecology and Management team collect baseline soil samples prior to pasture development in April 2014.

In 2015, an additional 11 acres (4 ha) was planted to native warm-season grass mixture as an open pasture control comparison (3 replicate blocks). Our intent is to introduce grazing into the silvopasture design in 2016.

Tree height and stem diameter will be determined periodically. Information on survival rate of trees has been collected. We plan to make location-specific allometric relationship between stem diameter and woody and leaf biomass C and N.

Greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, CH4, N2O) were measured in 2013/2014 as influenced by vegetation structure and soil type. Soils are being sampled periodically to determine spatial variations and contents of soil C and N as influenced by vegetation structure.  (See Franzluebbers, A.J., Chappell, J.C., Shi, W. et al. Greenhouse gas emissions in an agroforestry system of the southeastern USA. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst [2016]. doi:10.1007/s10705-016-9809-7)

Native warm-season grass establishment is being evaluated with conventional disking and no-tillage seedbed preparation in both 2014 and 2015. Forage biomass and botanical composition will be evaluated by Dr. Miguel Castillo.

See Also

Soil Organic Carbon in Silvopasture with Native Warm Season Grasses (.pdf)  J. Chris Smith, Soil Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC and Alan J. Franzluebbers, USDA-ARS, Raleigh, NC.  2016 Soil Science Society of America Poster 343-317.

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The Agroforestry Way (video).  Presentation given to the Sixth Annual Agroforestry Symposium, University of Missouri, January 2015 by Janet Chappell, North Carolina State University.

Agroforestry: USDA Reports to America, Fiscal Years 2011–2012 (In-Brief).  From the United States Department of Agriculture.  See page 11.

Agroforestry News

Silvopasture getting closer look in Southeast

August 31st, 2016|Comments Off on Silvopasture getting closer look in Southeast

Dr. Alan Franzluebbers didn’t go looking for silvopasture; the practice was waiting for him. The research ecologist relocated four years ago to a position with North Carolina State University’s Department of Soil Science. Having researched pasture systems for more than a decade in Georgia, Franzluebbers inherited a silvopasture study already underway at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems in Goldsboro.

From the Ground Up: News and Updates from the CEFS Research Farm

February 1st, 2013|Comments Off on From the Ground Up: News and Updates from the CEFS Research Farm

By Andrew Meier, Superintendent, Cherry Research Farm February 2013 The Farm crew has been busy during the past month! They have been working with university faculty and other volunteers to prune the Loblollys and some [...]