Monday, April 29, 2013

College Trustees Visit Agroforestry Site

            Trustee spouses strike a pose with Forest Biology students. From left: (Back Row) Mike Davis, Lance Buhl (Front Row) Maeve O'Connor, Ally Wilson, Monica Laramee, Doug Whitfield, Sandy Ummel, Lolly Copeland
Dave Ellum's Forest Biology class had the opportunity to host several spouses of the College's Trustees at the River Bend Agroforestry Site while they were in town for President Solnick's Inauguration. The group learned about the research and demonstration site which not only integrates forest-agriculture interfaces, but also provides opportunities for collaboration between work crews, academic classes and local permaculture organizations. The project is designed to show scale appropriate methods for developing perennial polycultures that can increase biodiversity, diversify landowner revenue streams and conserve forested and agricultural landscapes. The project is in early stages of development and has been generously funded by an ELC Campus Green Grant and The Tavener Family Foundation. Read the ECHO story here.

Initial implementation of the site tested three methods for removing pasture grasses and excluding grasses from future stages. One method employed horse disking to kill grass and sheet mulching combined with wood chops for exclusion (above). A second method employed hogs on a dense stocking for 10 days on small paddocks and woodchips without sheet mulching for exclusion (below). A third long-term method is using black locust (Robinia psuedoacacia) on an 8"x10" spacing to shade out grass over time (not shown). The horse method proved most effective, while the hog method removed all grasses except bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) which came back after one growing season to dominate the site. 

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