Forest grazing

Asked January 12, 2015, 10:15 AM EST

Hi, I am trying an experiment on a 21 acre douglas fir reprod lot where I'm limbing the trees and attempting to grow grass and other forage for grazing in between the trees. I need some advice as to what forage will grow best in these conditions and how much light I have to provide. Do you have someone who can advise me? Thanks!

Washington County Oregon

3 Responses

Forest grazing is also known as silvopasture. I will refer you to an OSU Extension publication called "Silvopasture: an agroforestry practice" which should get you started. Here is the link:
http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/jspui/bitstream/1957/12959/1/EM8989.pdf
Hope this helps.

Thanks for the article, that's helpful. One thing that's not so clear is how I measure the amount of shade that is being generated by my timber. The article talks about cool-season forages growing in areas that have up to 50% shade. How do I figure out how much sunlight the ground is receiving under my trees?

Thanks.

There are several different ways to measure percent canopy cover or percent shade - some require special equipment, but you can get a decent estimate using a transect or line intercept method. I'll see if I can explain below. You need to do this on a clear sunny day.
1. Choose several representative areas in the stand.
2. With a tape measure, mark a line on the ground of a particular length, say maybe 20 feet.
3. Calculate the percent of the line that is shaded; for example if there is shade cast on 10 feet out of the 20 feet, there is 50% shade.
4. Do this a few times during the day (like morning, noon, afternoon) to get a more precise estimate. Also make sure you sample several areas within the stand and average the results.

Hope this helps. I'm not a silvopasture expert, but if you have questions regarding management of the trees you can contact me directly at my email address below or at 503-397-3462.