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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS FROM MULTIUSE AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPES TO FAMILY FARMS Title: Management factors affecting the establishment of pine based silvopastures in southern grasslands in the United States

Authors
item Brauer, David
item Pearson, Henry - RETIRED FROM ARS, USDA
item Burner, David

Submitted to: The Open Forest Science Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 17, 2008
Publication Date: January 30, 2009
Citation: Brauer, D.K., Pearson, H., Burner, D.M. 2009. Management factors affecting the establishment of pine based silvopastures in southern grasslands in the United States. The Open Forest Science Journal. 2:1-8.

Interpretive Summary: Silvopasture practices are being advocated as a means of maintaining pine forest acreage in the southeast United States; however, scientific data on the design and management of such practices for optimum tree growth are lacking. Studies were conducted by ARS scientists from the Booneville AR location to determine the effects of weed control, irrigation, soil fertility and protection from cattle grazing on the establishment of loblolly pines (Pinus taeda L.). First-year pine growth was significantly increased by a high level of weed control, but not by irrigation, pre-plant fertilization or interactions among the treatments. Pine seedling survival and growth up to 21 months after transplanting were significantly reduced when seedlings were planted into pastures grazed continuously by cattle. These results are quite different from previous reports indicating that tree damage was minimal when pasture was rotationally grazed. This discrepancy suggests that tree growth and survival during the tree establishment phase may be affected by the grazing scheme, that is, continuous versus rotational grazing and points out the need for regulated grazing systems during pine regeneration and establishment of silvopastures. These results also indicate that pine growth is best when competing vegetation near the seedlings are kept at a minimum.

Technical Abstract: Silvopasture practices are being advocated as a means of maintaining pine forest acreage in the southeast United States; however, scientific data on the design and management of such practices for optimum tree growth are lacking. Studies were conducted near Booneville AR to determine the effects of weed control, irrigation, soil fertility and protection from cattle grazing on the establishment of loblolly pines (Pinus taeda L.). First-year pine growth was significantly increased by a high level of weed control, but not by irrigation, pre-plant fertilization or interactions among the treatments. Pine seedling survival and growth up to 21 months after transplanting were significantly reduced when seedlings were planted into pastures grazed continuously by cattle. Suspending a single strand of electric fence above the trees increased survival but tree growth was reduced compared to trees protected from grazing. Tree survival and growth tended to be less in tall fescue (Lolium arundinaceum Schreb.) than bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.), especially when pastures were grazed by cattle. These results are quite different from previous reports indicating that tree damage was minimal when pasture was rotationally grazed. This discrepancy suggests that tree growth and survival during the tree establishment phase may be affected by the grazing scheme, that is, continuous versus rotational grazing and points out the need for regulated grazing systems during pine regeneration and establishment of silvopastures. These results also indicate that pine growth is best when competing vegetation near the seedlings are kept at a minimum.

Last Modified: 12/21/2014
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