Monday, January 07, 2019

Increasingly popular practice of pasturing livestock in woodlots could reduce producers' carbon footprint

Photo by Lela Nargi, Civil Eats
The ancient practice of silvopasture, or pasturing animals among trees, is becoming more popular in the U.S. If more farmers and ranchers start doing it, it could help shrink our carbon footprint.

"If you have an overgrown woodlot, a strong back, a chainsaw, a small tractor with a mower, a pile of grass and clover seed, and a rake, then you can start establishing a small silvopasture on your land," Carl Fraccarolli of Cornell University writes for the land-grant school's Small Farms Program.
Here's how it works: trees absorb and keep a lot of carbon over time, and they're even better at it when planted among grazing animals on land that isn't suitable for growing crops, Lela Nargi reports for Civil Eats. Worldwide, silvopasture accounts for about 15 percent of all grazing land; though researchers know the number is low, it's unknown exactly how much land is dedicated to silvopasture in the U.S.

"Project Drawdown, a group of international scientists and policymakers that modeled the 80 most effective ways to battle climate change, ranks silvopasture number nine on its list, reporting that it could reduce CO2 emissions by over 31 gigatons by 2050 if it were ramped up from its current 351 million acres to 554 million acres worldwide," Nargi reports.

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