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Transforming land for broader agroforestry benefits

sustainable agriculture
Photo courtesy of Greenbrier Farms

Researchers at Furman University, through a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant, studied the feasibility of transforming forested land on farms in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia into silvopasture systems. Silvopasture is a sustainable agriculture practice that integrates trees and livestock in a system that combines grazing with environmental benefits, while generating a secondary income stream.

Principal investigator John Quinn, a biology professor at Furman, and earth and environmental sciences professors Brannon Andersen and Courtney Quinn collaborated on the study. They, along with farmers in the region, studied suitable understory forage mixtures specifically for grazing pigs, removed invasive weed plant species to determine the impact on wildlife nesting and foraging habitat, and analyzed soil quality between managed and unmanaged forested land.

The results of the study were published on the Southern SARE website. The full paper, “Silvopasture Systems in the South: Identification of Suitable Forage Crops and Enhancement of Environmental Quality in Upland Forests,” may be found at this link. The study is a result of a 2016 $135,000 grant awarded by SARE, which is part of the United States Department of Agriculture.

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