Silvopasture for livestock, biodiversity and soil health

Seven farms are integrating trees with livestock on their farms and are monitoring the impact on livestock behaviour, biodiversity and soil health metrics

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Field Lab Timeline

    7/4/2020 11:00:00 PM
  • Farmer workshops

    Farmer workshops
  • 9/9/2020 11:00:00 PM
  • Planting designs developed

    Planting designs developed
  • 11/15/2020 12:00:00 AM
  • Development of methodologies

    Development of methodologies
  • 1/15/2021 12:00:00 AM
  • Fencing installed

    Fencing installed
  • 2/26/2021 12:00:00 AM
  • Tree planting

    Tree planting
  • 3/30/2021 11:00:00 PM
  • Baseline Soil Sampling

    Baseline Soil Sampling
  • 5/14/2021 11:00:00 PM
  • Baseline biodiversity monitoring

    Baseline biodiversity monitoring
  • 7/14/2021 11:00:00 PM
  • Baseline biodiversity monitoring

    Baseline biodiversity monitoring
  • 6/14/2022 11:00:00 PM
  • Monitoring

  • 6/14/2023 11:00:00 PM
  • Monitoring

  • 6/14/2024 11:00:00 PM
  • Monitoring

  • 6/14/2025 11:00:00 PM
  • Monitoring

For further information hover over the above milestone marks
  • Discussion

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  • Achievements

    March 2021

    Baseline soil sampling

    Rothamsted research visited the farms in February and March to undertake baseline sampling and will monitor the change of this over the next 12 years to understand whether the integration of trees improves soil organic carbon sequestration and soil structure.

    The assessments:
    • Soil organic matter - leaf and root decomposition, root respiration and root fungal/bacterial processes all add organic matter to soils
    • Bulk density - a measure of soil compaction, which influences water availability, plant rooting depth, the availability of plant nutrients and soil microorganism activity

    The samples are being frozen and stored - in total around 1,000 samples have been taken. Samples will be taken at 0-10cm and 30cm. Sampling will next take place at intervals over the next 12 years, with the next soil sampling to take place in 3 years time as changes in soil organic carbon is a slow process.

    The researchers expect that there may be some initial losses in soil carbon from tree planting, but overall this is minimal as soil disturbance associated with digging small holes for the trees is likely to be very low.

    The researchers followed sampling methodology followed UN FAO protocol for measuring, monitoring and reporting on soil organic carbon in agriculture. The protocol can be adapted locally to monitor SOC stocks and stock changes to support management decisions and can be found at:

    Milestone: Baseline Soil Sampling

    February 2021

    Trees planted

    Advisors from the Woodland Trust and FWAG visited each farm in autumn 2020 to develop tree planting designs unique to the needs of each farmer. The trees (funded by the Woodland Trust) were planted at the farms throughout February, with some farms involving dozens of local volunteers in the planting.

    Three planting designs will be used overall - shelterbelts, regular spaced strips and open-grazed clustered wood pasture. The farms will use one or more of these designs across their fields. The benefits and drawbacks of each design are detailed in the knowledge exchange section of our website (link below).

    For example, regular spaced strips allow machinery access to alleys for cutting silage if farmers wish to manage this as productive grassland throughout the year. However, the prioritisation of grass in this design means the least biodiversity benefits are expected of all three designs.

    For more information on the planting designs and related costs, visit:

    Milestone: Planting designs developed

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