Tree planting isn’t a new practise at Fordhall – in fact it has been going for many years – but in recent months the benefits of producing a silvopasture project have very much come to the forefront. So much so, in fact, Fordhall Farm will soon be launching a full campaign to raise money to implement it. There will also be voluntary opportunities to get involved with, helping us plant all the young trees that are set to make their way farm-wards.
Silvopasture? What’s that? While this may be an unfamiliar word, it is simply the term coined for the management of grazing livestock within a forested environment. It can be considered somewhat of a contrast from modern agriculture as field and forest are often seen as separate. However, silvopasture is actually a fairly ancient farming practise.
When managed properly, the method benefits both livestock, biodiversity and the ecosystem. The trees act as shade and shelter and their fruits provide additional forage, while manure provides nutrients and browsing aids growth through pruning.
Once a silvopasture system is implemented, the benefits do seem to stack up to beyond the initial provision for the livestock. Studies, as detailed in the Soil Association’s Agroforestry Handbook, have shown that forested systems are highly effective in reducing flood risk, especially when heavy rainfall follows a dry period; some tree species, such as blackthorn, result in a 60 times higher soil infiltration rate.
Tree planting at Fordhall is by no means a new thing, decades of new trees aiding biodiversity, and water and soil conservation. However, now the focus will be on introducing species appropriate for a Silvopasture project – species which provide a benefit to both livestock and nature.
Excitingly, this project is already entered its first phase – in February, a band of our wonderful volunteers planted a chain of trees below the Motte and Bailey site, which extends along the fence line. The plan is to have many more young trees calling Fordhall their home!
If you would like to make a pledge to help us implement our silvopasture project, the donation link can be found at www.fordhallfarm.com/get-involved/buy-a-share/donate-fordhall/
To find our more about becoming a volunteer, please visit www.fordhallfarm.com/get-involved/volunteer/
Francesca Lant, Marketing and Communications Officer