Get the Dirt!

New Sheep and Cattle Silvopasture Forage Trial Update

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Starting February 2018 new plant seeds were prepared and sprouted inside in flats to give them a head start going into the growing season. With a little tender care (inside and outdoors), including watering, weeding and transplanting, many of the successes now can be shared.

Leading up to this project, I did significant research to understand the potential of underutilized livestock forage species. There is a lot of information out there about plants that have been planted around the USA and world that are good, but have lost favor in the "market" or conventional grazing industry for various reasons. OR, there are plants that are grown for other industries but have potential as forage for livestock in new configurations, like silvopasture systems.

Here is pictorial run through of some of this years' seedling successes (although they need a full winter, and tested as animal fodder before we can give them the thumbs up):

Illinois Bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis)

Big Trefoil (Lotus pedunculatus) with Willows (Salix sp.)

Chickpea Milkvetch 'HiPal' (Astragalus cicer) on the right

Empress Tree (from potted plant, Paulownia tomentosa) with Wild Senna (Senna hebecarpa) 

Mulberry (started from dormant branch cutting Morus sp.) with Black Locust (started from dormant root cutting Robinia pseudoacacia)  

Indigo Bush (Amorpha fruticosa)

As this trial continues my plan is to update findings on this blog. Ultimately those species that turn out to meet the following characteristics will win out and I'll publish details about them, including hardiness, palatability, vigor, growth habit, and polyculture potential.

Photos by Eric Toensmeier and others.

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