, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 47-55

Tree and livestock productivity in relation to tree planting configuration in a silvopastoral system in North Wales, UK

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Silvopastoral systems in Europe offer the potential of introducing environmental benefits while at the same time increasing the diversity of farm outputs. The establishment of new silvopastoral systems by planting young trees into existing pasture was investigated at a site in North Wales, UK. Two tree species, sycamore (Acer pseudo-platanus L.) and red alder(Alnus rubra Bong.), were planted into pasture at a range of densities and planting arrangements. Growth of trees planted in farm woodland blocks (2500 stems ha−1) was compared with the growth of trees planted at 400 stems ha−1 in clumps and dispersed throughout the plot and at 100 stems ha−1 (dispersed). Over the first six years after planting, alder trees were significantly taller and larger in diameter than sycamore. Sycamore trees planted at close spacing in farm woodland or clumped arrangements were significantly larger in diameter than widely spaced sycamore at 100 and 400 stems ha−1. Livestock productivity was unaffected by the presence of trees during the six-year establishment phase of the system. The planting of trees in a clumped pattern appears to combine silvicultural benefits to tree growth with agricultural benefits of maintaining livestock production while trees are established.