Exploring the light and shade of silvopasture.
The ancient art of silvopasture could be set to, quite literally, change the landscape of British farming.
Currently the subject of a 12 year trial run by farmers, Rothamsted Research, The Woodland Trust, The Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) and Innovative Farmers, silvopasture (a traditional method of farming livestock with trees) is thought to sequester additional carbon, reduce flooding, increase drought-resilience, improve animal health and wellbeing and boost biodiversity. But will it work in the UK? Scientists and farmers in Devon have combined forces to find out. We talked to two key people involved in the trial; Andy Gray, commercial farmer at Elston Farm in Devon and Dr Robert Dunn, a scientist at Rothamsted Research, who specialises on reducing the environmental impact of agriculture.
Andy Gray is a catering butcher, direct delivery meat boxes, game and venison producer, processor and dealer, farmer, quarry owner and dog food producer.
His interests are falconry, fishing, deer stalking, spearfishing, beekeeping, ferreting and various voluntary roles.
He is constantly interested in the nature around him, riparian conservation, soils, agricultural innovation in relation to biodiversity and productivity.
Before long Andy’s meat boxes will be available through Farm Wilder – an online provider distributing wildlife friendly, sustainable meat. Check it out.
Dr Robert Dunn has an interest in all things environmental, with a particular fascination for natural history. He holds degrees in ecology and then vegetation ecology, and started working for Rothamsted Research at the North Wyke site in 2005 and overall, would say that his role leads falls under the remit of reducing the environmental impact of agriculture.
He has been fortunate to work on a large variety of projects involving biodiversity restoration, soil chemistry, greenhouse gas monitoring, water quality issues, increasing the nutrient content of crops both here and in Africa, as well as planting the trees in the new Devon Silvopasture Trial and managing Rothamsted’s silvopasture site.