Golf courses and English parks can be very pleasing to the eye. John Barrow postulated that this is because humans evolved in the savannahs of Africa. When we see a grassy landscape with a few trees, our subconscious is thinking “good hunting grounds.” Increasingly, livestock farmers favor these sort of landscapes as well. But not because they look nice. The practice of combining trees with grazing livestock (called “silvopasture” in the ag business) can be a win-win-win. The trees are a valuable cash crop in their own right, plus they provide shade and shelter for the livestock. In hot weather, trees can even increase the growth of forage by shading it.
It is not clear how well this will work in our climate, but we are experimenting to find out. Peter Nash has selectively thinned a piece of his forested land. Our pigs pictured above are happily working on step two: preparing the soil for planting an organic pasture seed mix. It will be some time before we know if it will be possible to graze cattle here. If not, I’m thinking the golf course business looks a lot easier than farming anyway.