Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/15/2006
Publication Date: 1/12/2008
Citation: Feldhake, C.M., Belesky, D.P., Mathias, E.L. 2008. Forage production under and adjacent to Robinia Pseudoacacia in central Appalachia, West Virginia. In: Jose, S. Gordon, A., editors. Toward Agroforestry Design: An Ecological Approach. Netherlands: Springer. p. 55-66.
Technical Abstract: Most Appalachian hill farms are dominated by pasture and woodlots, which produce modest amounts of income for the landowner. Diversifying pasture production systems by conversion to silvopastures offers potential for increasing income in an environmentally sustainable way. A steep pasture watershed was planted to black locust rows 12 m apart with trees spaced 1.5 m within rows. During the 9th, 10th and 11th year of growth photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), soil moisture and soil temperature gradients were measured and related to forage yield and botanical composition of the sward. Total forage yields were not significantly affected by proximity to the tree rows in two of the three years even though forage under tree canopies received one fifth the amount of total daily PAR as did mid-alley plots. Soil moisture averaged 2% lower under trees and soil temperature 2 oC cooler. Clover density was five times greater in mid-alley positions, but there was little difference in orchardgrass and about a 10% difference in tall fescue between mid-alley and under-tree canopies. In this planting configuration 9 to 11 yr-old black locust trees had minimal impact on total forage productivity, although sward composition was affected. Locust trees provide the potential to generate additional income from pasture with products such as fence posts, firewood and honey.