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Title: Thinned Mature Deciduous Forest Silvopastures for Appalachia

Author
item Feldhake, Charles
item Neel, James - Jim
item Belesky, David

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/19/2007
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Little information is available on effective management and utilization of silvopastures developed from the ubiquitous mature woodlots which comprise 40-50% of small Appalachian farm acreage. We thinned a white oak dominated mature second growth forested area establishing two 0.5 ha, eight-paddock, orchardgrass-perennial ryegrass-white clover silvopasture replications for comparison with two nearby open pasture replications. After thinning trees, silvopastures were limed, fertilized and seeded. Sheep were fed hay and corn scattered across the area to facilitate removal of residual understory and incorporation of applied materials into surface soil. We measured soil moisture in the top 15 cm using time domain reflectometry and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) using a system of 16, 1 m line Quantum Sensors during the subsequent growing seasons of 2004, 2005, and 2006. Paddocks were rotationally grazed by sheep with two 1 m2 herbage mass samples taken prior to animal grazing. There was no significant difference in soil moisture between silvopastures and open pastures however, there was adequate rainfall to prevent drought all three years. The two silvopasture replications had residual tree stands of 45.8 and 50.8 m2 ha-1 diameter breast height allowing 42 and 51% of total daily incident PAR compared to measurements in the open field. Total forage mass yield from open pasture for 2004, 2005 and 2006 was 9.9, 10.5 and 10.2 t ha-1 respectively and for silvopasture 8.5, 6.7 and 6.7 t ha-1. Silvopastures averaging 47% of open pasture incident PAR yielded an average of 72% as much herbage mass in spite of silvopasture soils not being managed for forage production the previous near century as the open pasture's and possibly left in forest due to being considered inferior.