Trees and Livestock group, 25th January 2018 at The Farm, Longnor, Shropshire
Tim Downes welcomed us to his farm and described how his agroforestry system was designed and implemented to compliment his large organic dairy herd (Link to presentation). Tim has two silvopastoral trials taking place close to the main dairy, the first looking at the medicinal benefits of broadleaf trees for cows to browse alongside a second trialling the nutritional benefits of white and crack willow. The group then donned wellies for a farm tour. Discussions centred on the layout of the tree rows with two trials; one a mixed trial of native broadleaf species which provided a medicinal trial for organic cattle who through the nature of the organic farming system rely on homeopathy and natural remedies to combat infection and sub-clinical infection. The second trial focused on the nutritional value of white and crack willow self-fed ad-libitum by cattle when passing the trees on-route to and from the dairy.
The afternoon kicked off with a short presentation from Peter Aspin which provided an insight into silvopasture for calf rearing alongside a multi-species tree and grazing alley cropping system on permanent grassland. Peter had a wealth of knowledge on the pros and cons of different tree species, tree species historic background and potential for future use. Ian Knight from AFINET UK (Abacus) gave an update on AFINET RAIN activities in Europe and outcomes from previous UK events. To round up the event, the group was divided into smaller groups to share their experiences, to identify their priorities for the group for future events as well as identify the most important tools we can provide to encourage agroforestry innovation.