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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Booneville, Arkansas » Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #85578


item Blanche, Catalino
item Brown, Michael

Submitted to: Agroforestry Systems
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/31/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Information on how pine trees can be added to small farms or pastures to provide additional income is lacking. Our studies have shown that there are ways by which trees could be introduced and arranged on a farm without substantially disrupting farming operations. These arrangements (tree row configurations) allow forage production to continue even to the time of final tree harvest provided timely pruning and thinning interventions are made. Although there is a small amount of income lost from the pasture during tree establishment, the long-term consequences of adding trees to the pasture are financially and environmentally very favorable. Income generated by harvesting pine straw (as mulch) starting at year 8 from planting, can increase farm net income by as much as 100 to 400% depending on the fertility of the farm, age of the trees and the number of trees growing. By utilizing 30% of the acreage (out of a 200-acre farm) for pine tree growing, the farm would continue to operate with several products such as timber, pine straw, and other crops that could be grown on alleys between rows of trees, instead of just animals. Whereas pine straw harvesting is very profitable, the continuous removal of nutrients from the site as a result of pine straw harvesting could lead to reduced tree growth and soil productivity. But for as long as it is economically and environmentally cost effective to replace those lost nutrients through fertilization, harvesting the pine straw that fall every year should be taken advantage to improve small farm profitability and viability.

Technical Abstract: This paper summarizes interim results of long-term studies of pine straw production from silvopastoral configured stands, nutrient depletion due to pine straw and forage harvesting, and demonstrates the profitability (cash flows) of incorporating pine straw harvesting in a typical 200-acre Arkansas pasture using the Agroforestry Economic Model (AEM) jointly developed by the New Zealand Forest Research Institute and the USDA, Agricultural Research Service. Pine straw yield increases from single row wide spacing (2,190 lbs/acre) to quadruple row configuration (3,126 lbs/acre). Nutrient depletion due to pine straw harvesting ranges from a minimum of 1.58 lbs phosphorus per acre to a high of 26.6 lbs nitrogen per acre. Forage yield was highest in the double row configuration. Pine straw harvesting increases silvopastoral profitability by as much as 450%.