Silvopasture Establishment and Economics: Modeling the Cost of Wildlife Browse Damage to Stand Establishment and Cattle Introduction on Redstone Arsenal
Type of Degreethesis
Forest Economics and Policy
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This thesis examines three distinct but related aspects of wildlife browse damage to southern yellow pine establishment and growth in a silvopasture: the characteristics and extent of wildlife browse damage to 1-year old loblolly seedlings, seedling mortality and growth rate over the second growing season, and estimates of potential economic trade-offs among tree and livestock values for introducing cattle after the third growing season. Study sites were located at Redstone Arsenal in north-central Alabama. The individual heights and damage conditions of loblolly seedlings were measured across the second growing season during five bi-monthly data collection periods that began in March of 2011 and ended in November of 2011. Results suggest a significant association between wildlife browse damage to terminal buds on 1-year old seedlings and the 18 inch average height reduction observed for 2-year old seedlings when compared to undamaged loblolly in the same silvopasture. Seedling growth and economic models suggest average seedling at the end of the third growing season, combined with initial seedling mortality, may warrant the decision to postpone cattle introduction due to the potential loss in tree value and the alternative of hay-lease revenue. This research provides information and decision tools to assist Redstone Arsenal’s resource managers and Alabama’s landowners in assessing ecological and economic interactions between silvopasture components. This information is important for a range of stakeholders during the planning and budgeting of a silvopasture whether expanding a current operation, transitioning from traditional agriculture, or obtaining a capital investment to begin an operation.