All you need to know about Silvopasture

Silvopasture is one of the identified solutions to reverse climate change. Here’s a brief about what it means and its impact.

What is Silvopasture?

Silvopasture is the traditional practice of combining trees, livestock and forage plants as an integrated system.

Project Drawdown defines silvopasture as the addition of trees to pastures for increased productivity and biosequestration. This solution replaces conventional livestock grazing on pasture and rangeland.

How does this impact climate change?

According to permaculturenews, “the main ecological benefit of silvopasture systems is that they allow for trees to be grown in agricultural systems. Trees suck up carbon dioxide from the air and can act as carbon sinks. They also help to improve the soil through slowly adding a steady source of organic matter through leaf fall. As the soils improve, the quality of the pasture will also improve leading to healthier animals and healthier ecosystems.”

But isn’t eating less meat better for climate change? Why should more livestock be raised?

Eating meat isn’t a problem, but eating too much of it is what led to industrial agriculture. Meat will continue to be a part of our diets but in much lesser amounts. And the livestock for that, if raised according to silvopastoral practices, will not only be more efficient, but the ecological resilience of that area will also improve. Instead of cutting down rainforests to raise more livestock, integrating them in this principle would double down on financial and ecological benefits.

What is the impact that comes from Silvopasture?

According to Drawdown’s website:

We estimate that silvopasture is currently practised on 351 million acres of land globally. If adoption expands to 554 million acres by 2050—out of the 2.7 billion acres theoretically suitable for silvopasture—carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by 31.2 gigatons. This reduction is a result of the high annual carbon sequestration rate of 1.95 tons of carbon per acre per year in soil and biomass. Farmers could realize financial gains from revenue diversification of $699 billion, on an investment of $42 billion to implement.

Project Drawdown

Additional references:

Watch: What is Silvopasture – A presentation by John Fike, Virginia Tech

ICARDA and Silvopastoral farming in India

Will US Farmers take Silvopasture seriously?

A handbook of Silvopasture systems