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Research Project Studies Turning Forested Land to Silvopasture

Through a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) grant, researchers at Furman University studied the feasibility of transforming forested land on southern farms to silvopasture systems. Professor John Quinn and colleagues studied suitable understory forage mixtures specifically for grazing pigs, removed invasive weed plant species to determine how that impacted wildlife nesting and foraging habitat, and compared soil quality of managed and unmanaged forested land. They found that some forage mixtures did not provide enough forage or provide for soil retention. They also found little difference in soil quality in this short-term study. “The results suggest that forest soils, like the pastures, are still recovering from degradation caused by intensive tillage cultivation,” said Quinn. “Removal of invasive plants and increased rotational grazing combined with cover crops may improve soil quality as measured by carbon and nitrogen content.”