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Trees and Crops Could Supplement Livestock on Small Farms / November 17, 1997 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Scientists check corn row for yield and quality.

Trees and Crops Could Supplement Livestock on Small Farms

By Tara Weaver
November 17, 1997

Small farms that raise livestock could have a new money-making option--agroforestry--when livestock prices drop. Agroforestry means incorporating trees or crops or both into the livestock operation.

Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service in Booneville, Ark., are studying two types of agroforestry. One is silvopasture--growing trees, cows and grass on the same land. The other, alley cropping, means growing crops between the tree rows.

According to forester Catalino A. Blanche at ARS’ Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center, introducing the right tree species into a pasture in the right manner can eventually improve a farmer’s income as much as 300 percent. The extra grazing income would be about $3,400 a year for a 50-cow, 200-acre pasture. And planting 60 acres of that pasture with trees over a 30-year period would add another $5,000 a year.

With alley cropping, the other type of agroforestry, farmers would plant crops between the tree rows while waiting for the trees to grow. They could grow and sell corn, for example, besides raising livestock.

The scientists at Booneville are looking at a wide range of alternative crops to learn which could work best in an agroforestry system. Possibilities, in addition to corn, include muscadine grapes, herbs, jalapeno peppers and plants with chemical properties useful in industry and medicine and as dietary supplements.

An in-depth story on Booneville’s agroforestry research appears in the November issue of Agricultural Research magazine. The story is also on the World Wide Web at:

Scientific contact: Catalino A. Blanche, Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center, Booneville, Ark., phone (501) 675-3834, fax (501) 675-2940,

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