Friday, September 9, 2011

Bt Cotton seed meal in Cattle feed

Gossypol is a yellow compound produced by the Bt cotton plant that confers resistance to pests. To prevent any harmful effects of feeding Bt cotton seed meal to cows, this Gossypol content in cattle feed has to be kept to safe levels. Theoretically it is considered possible to analyse and ensure that cattle feed users are educated about Glossypol content in the cattle feed, to ensure that Bt cotton seed meal will not cause any harm to the cattle. But in practice this has never been possible to implement even in Europe. The result is that Europe has practically stopped using cotton seed meal in the cattle feed. It is therefore a suggestion for Indian cows and Indian cattle feed manufacturing industry to avoid use of any cotton seed meal. For interest of more scientific minded persons, the following is reproduced to explain the position in details. Gossypol is a yellow compound produced by the Bt cotton plant that confers resistance to pests. Gossypol shows moderate acute toxicity in most species with oral LD50s of 2400-3340 mg/kg for rats, 500-950 mg/kg for mice, 350-600 mg/kg for rabbits, 550 mg/kg for pigs and 280-300 mg/kg for guinea pigs. Signs of acute gossypol toxicity are similar in all animals and included spnoea and anorexia. Generally, (–)-gossypol is more biologically active than (+)-gossypol. However,(+)-gossypol is more slowly eliminated. The main target organ of gossypol toxicity following repeated exposure to lower doses in rats and humans is the testis with reduced sperm motility, inhibited spermatogenesis and depressed sperm counts. Suppressed spermatogenesis in humans is partly irreversible, particularly in males with varicocele. Gossypol also affects female reproductive organs and embryo development . Gossypol is not genotoxic and it did not induce tumors in a one year study in rat. No health based guidance value (ADI, TDI) has been established for gossypol. The lowest oral doses inhibiting spermatogenesis in humans and monkeys were 0.1 and 0.35 mg/kg b.w., respectively. Gossypol is less toxic to ruminants, and inhibition of spermatogenesis, embryo development and increased erythrocyte fragility occur at doses of 6-18 mg/kg b.w. per day in cattle and cardiomyopathy in lambs at 2-3 mg/kg b.w. per day. Monogastric animals appear to be more susceptible to gossypol toxicity than ruminants. Current legislation includes maximum limits for free gossypol in both cottonseed meal and complete feeding stuffs. Under normal feeding practices, the concentration in complete feeding stuffs will be less than half the maximum permitted level, even assuming the highest permitted concentrations in cottonseed meal and maximum recommended inclusion rates of the meal in livestock diets. The concentrations of free gossypol that theoretically could be reached according to the current legislation on maximum permitted concentrations in complete feeding stuffs would lead to an intake of gossypol that could result in adverse effects in livestock. The potential exposure to free gossypol, based on the maximum permitted concentration in cottonseed meal and recommended maximum inclusion rates in complete feed, would not be expected to result in adverse effects in ruminants, poultry and fish. However, not all mono gastric livestock animals, e.g. pigs, have been fully investigated for potential reproductive effects occurring at low doses in some species. There is a lack of data on gossypol content (free and bound) in feed materials used for livestock in the EU. However, information provided by the livestock feed industry indicates that amounts of cottonseed meal imported into the EU have declined significantly in recent years, and relatively little is now used as a feeding stuff for livestock in the EU. Industry sources confirm that it is not used as a feed for laying hens or fish. Gossypol is transferred to edible parts, muscle and offal of ruminants and poultry, and is probably transferred to cow’s milk as it is transferred to breast milk in rats. There is very little quantitative information on transfer. At high experimental doses substantial amounts are transferred. No information was identified on the bioavailability of gossypol remaining in food products from animals fed gossypol containing feed. Human exposure to gossypol through the consumption of food products from animals fed gossypol seed derived products is probably low and would not result in adverse effects.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pastures for cows- Vedic tradition- Modern science

Importance of Pastures
From time immemorial it is worldwide wisdom that Fresh Raw Milk –धारोष्ण गो दुग्ध is the best and complete diet. अमृतं किम्‌ गोपय:, our tradition called Cow’s Milk- Ambrosia - अमृत. Vedas sang paeans of it.
Old age was like wear and tear of mechanisms of the human body. The self degenerating human diseases such as –Obesity, Diabetes, Cancer, Arthrosclerosis, Bone porosity, Cardiac Heart Troubles did not exist.
India is the land of world’s oldest surviving continuous civilization. The underlying secret extolled by Vedas is the Indian tradition of vegetarian diet and domesticated cow in every household. This wisdom of India is a gift to the modern world.
Modern science tells us that pesticide free Green Grass Fed cow’s Milk is rich in CLA and in diet Organic fresh raw food are the sustainable alternatives.
According to Vedas this was achieved by Cows that were self fed in pastures. परा मे यन्ति धीतयो गावो गव्यूतीरनु | इच्छन्ति रुरुचक्षसम्‌ || ऋ1.25.16. Vedas are also here talking of cows’ instincts of selecting particular grasses in mixed pasture herbages. Rig veda elaborates on this to describe an ideal pasture as
“मयोभूर्वातो अभि वातूस्रा ऊर्जस्वतीरोषधीरा रिशन्ताम |
पीवस्वतीर्जीवधन्या: पिबन्त्ववसाय पद्वते मृळ || ऋ 10.169.1”
“In pasture while being self fed-With salubrious winds wafting over them Cows partake of medicinal herbs as their feed. They have access to divine waters (fresh stream waters) that bless and their feet tread on ground that makes them free of any disease.”
According to ‘Nutrition and Physical Degeneration’ by Weston A. Price, D.D.S. as cows feed in pastures ‘Animal Instincts are Helpful in Meeting Their Nutritional Needs’.
Instincts for wise choice of food are still retained by the animals in spite of our attempts to convert the Cow into a Chemical Engineering establishment, wherein her ration is as simple as “Urea and phosphoric acid mixed with carbohydrates and proteins” however crude. And add mineral mixtures if you like.
Milk, because of its role in reproduction as yet cannot be reduced to the simplicity of Chemical Engineering. This in brief is the About Forests as Pastures-
Vedas on Pastures and Forests
अरण्यों का गोचर महत्व

RV 10-146-3
उत गाव इवादन्युत वेश्मेव दृष्यते।
उतो अरण्यानि: सायं शकटीरिव सर्जति।। ऋ 10-146-3
Cow with other animals find sustenance in the wild like in their homes, and when in the evening carts laden with forest produce emerge they return to their home, as if the gods in forests are sending them back to their homes with carts laden with bounties of the forests.
RV 10-146-4
गामङ्गैष आ ह्व्यति दार्वङ्गैषो अपावधीत।
वसन्नरण्यान्यां सायक्रुक्षदितिं मन्यते ।। ऋ 10-146-4
The gods of forest as if give directions to the cows from not going astray, and allow men to cut down on some trees. (It is now accepted that branches of trees should be regularly lopped off. This provides leaf fodder for cows, and fire wood for rural women. There a great advantage hidden in the practice of pruning forest trees. This allows sun light to reach the ground level to facilitate undergrowth in forests. This undergrowth not only stabilizes the forest soil. This prevents soil erosion that results in Land slides and Floods. Green Undergrowth ground cover also gives rise to Pseudomonas Syringe bacteria that ensure regular rains in forests.)Those who chose to make their dwellings in forest are subject to hearing fearful noises in the darkness of the nights.
RV 10-138-2
अवासृज: प्रस्व: श्वञ्चयो गिरिनुदाज उस्रा अपिबो मधु प्रियम।
अवर्धयो वनिनो अस्य दंससा शुशोच सूर्यं ऋतजातया गिरा।।
Mountains have prompted clouds to release their loads, to provide growth of the forests, and for the cows to partake of these sweet bounties. The cows have delivered their calves in the forest caves, and by the actions of Sun and rains this process has been doubly blessed. RV 10-27-8
गावो यवं प्रयुता अर्यो अक्षन्‌ ता अपश्यं सहगोपाश्चरन्तीः ।
हवा इदर्यो अभितः समायन्कियदासु स्वपतिश्छ्न्दयाते स्वपतिश्छन्दयाते।।ऋ10.27.8
The herd of cows under the care of the herdsman, are feeding themselves beyond sight ( in pasture) , on being called back they return to the homes of their owners to bless with plentiful bounties.
5.1.4 RV 10-100-1
ऊर्जं गावो यवसे पीवो अत्तन ऋतस्य या: सदने कोशे अङ्ध्वे !
तनूरेव तन्वो अस्तु भेषजमा सर्वतातिमदितिं वृणीमहे !!ऋ10.100.1
RV 10-100-10
Cows as you loiter around to graze in the greens to feed, to gather all the medicinal and nutritive components for your body, so that we are always blessed with a medicinal and brain building gifts. ( here reference is to high EFA-CLA milk , which is possible only with Green fodder )

5.2.0 About forest pastures (From panini Ashta Dyayi )

Planned breeding of Cows PA 1-2-7 3ग्राम्यपशुसङ्घेष्वतरुणेषु स्त्री ।।
It appears that only cows were allowed to go out in the pastures, unaccompanied with male calves or Bulls. (This obviously helped to prevent indiscriminate breeding) PA 3-3-74 निपानमहाव:
Special arrangements were provided to arrange water troughs for the cattle in Pastures.
5.2.3 PA 3-3-69 समुदोरजः पशुषु।।
समज: पशूनां समुदाय इत्यर्थ: उदज: पशूनां प्रेणा मित्यर्थ:-काशिका
Cows being a herd were referred to as Samaja & on being driven off to feed to gather were called Udaja.
5.2.4 PA 3-3-119 गोचरसञ्चर वह व्रज व्यजापणनिगमाश्च।
Cows were also kept in pastures, which were called Vraj.
Cow fed freely in pastures,guided by availability of vegetation and green cover as new pastures were developed. Carts laden with commercial produce also emerged from pastures. PA 5-2-18 गोष्ठात् खञ्‌ भूतपूर्वे ।।
The previously used land was called
gosht. Forest from where cattle were removed was called goshthin. PA 5-4-7
:-आअतिशञ्ग्वीन-;अषडक्षाशितं ग्वलंकर्मालं पुरुषाधयुत्तर पदात् ख: :-
This confirms that in the forests on the periphery of villages, cows were with facilities to feed themselves in rotation
भव इन्द्रश्च रक्षतम्‌।
पूषञस्त्वं पर्यावर्तानष्टा आयन्तु नो गृहान्‌।। मं ब्रा 1.8.1 गोभिल गृह सूक्त 3-6-1
Oh Cow as you go out to graze in pastures, let this be the provider of Vigor for you to motivate the world for its sustenance and nutrition, without you causing any damage to the environments while grazing, and come back to your home safely.

2.2.2 RV6.54.5.
पूषा गा अन्वेतु न: पूषान्न पूषा रक्षवर्वतः । पूषा वाजं सनोतु नः ।। ऋ6-54-5
Pushan ( the protector by nutrition and. multiplier of all progeny) may push from back our cows and bring them backto us full of bounties for us
2.2.3 – RV 6.54.6
पूषन्ननु प्र गा इहि यजमानस्य सुन्वत:।
अस्माकं स्तुवतामुत || ऋ6-54-6
May Pusha thus provide bounties for the Yajman, the owners of the cows who worship them.
2.2.4- RV 6.54.7
माकिर्ने शन्माकीं रिषन्माकी स शारि केवटे।
अथारिष्टा भिरा गहि।।ऋ 6-54-7
Cows may not get hurt by falling in to water wells. And return to
us after grazing without injury.

3.1.23 AV-9-7-21-23 प्रत्यङ्‌ तिष्ठन्‌ धातोदङ्‌ तिष्ठन्त्सविता ! तृणानि प्राप्त: सोमो राजा !! मित्र ईक्षमाण आवृत्त आनन्द: !!
When feeding facing west it gains physical strength. When feeding on green fodder, facing north it gains brain strength. By enjoying itself thus it develops a friendly temperament.

Cows when well fed and happy, are the supreme friendliness personified and on their return from the pastures they are embodiment of supreme happiness on earth. RV 1-161-11 land must be suitable for providing cow feed and water to be prosperous
गोपालन के लिए उपयुक्त प्रदेश ही सम्पन्न बनता है

उद्वत्स्वस्मा अकृणोतना तृणं निवस्त्वपः स्वपस्यया नरः ।
अगोह्यस्य यदस्तना गृहे तदद्येदमृभवो नानु गच्छथ ॥ ऋ 1-161-11
ऊंचे स्थानों पर गौ के लिए चारा, नीचे स्थानों पर गौ के लिए जल संचय करने के साधन द्वारा अपने प्रदेश को गौ के रहने के लिए उपयोगी बनाने से सम्पन्नता आती है।
By proper arrangements for pastures on higher grounds and water harvesting in low lying areas, land must be made hospitable for cows. Only such lands enjoy bounties and prosperities flowing through cows.
1.1.08 12.73
वि मुच्याध्वमघ्या देवयाना अगन्म तमसस्पारमस्य|
ज्योतिरापाम|| यजु 12.73
1.1.09 Make the land free of those who kill Cows to satisfy their hunger.
Yaju 30.18 Death sentence for killing a cow
मृत्यवे गोव्यच्छमंतकाय गोघातं क्षुधे यो गां विकृन्तन्तं || यजु 30.18
गौ हत्या करने वाले को मृत्यु दंड दिया जाए.
1.1.10 Cows graze and choose what they feed on
परा मे यन्ति धीतयो गावो गव्यूतीरनु |
इच्छन्ति रुरुचक्षसम्‌ || ऋ1.25.16
Cows visit the faraway pastures to feed on their choice of vegetation after close examination.
This matter has relevance to text found in Kashyap Sanghita

importance of Cows self fed in Pastures to deliver healthy milk.

Indian Tradition To develop new pasture lands & manage Forests
According to Kautilyas’s Arth Shastra:2.18
1.अकृष्यायां भूमौ पशुभ्यो विवीतानि प्रयच्छेत्‌ |
प्रदिष्टाभयस्थावरजङ्ग्मानि ब्राह्मणेभ्यो ब्रह्मसोमारण्यानि, तपोवनानि च तपस्विभ्य गोरुतपराणि प्रयच्छेत्‌ | तावन्मात्र मेकद्वारं खातगुप्तं स्वादुफलगुल्मगुच्छमकण्टकिद्रुममुत्तानातोयाशयं दान्तमृग्चतुष्पदं भग्नंखदंष्ट्र्व्यालं मार्गायुकहस्तिहस्तिनीकलभं मृगवनं विहारार्थं राज्ञ: करेत्‌ |
2.सर्वातिथिमृगं प्रत्यन्ते चयान्यन्मृगवनं बूमिवशेन वा निवेशयेत्‌ |
3.कुप्यप्रदिष्टानां च द्रव्याणामेकैकशो वा वनं निवेशयेत्‌; द्रव्यवनकर्मांतानटवीश्च द्रव्यवनापाश्रया: |
4. प्रत्यन्ते हस्तिवनमटव्यारक्ष्यं निवेशयेत्‌ | नागवनाद्यक्ष: पार्वतं नादेयं सारसमानूपं च नागवनं विदितपर्य न्तप्रवेशनिष्कसनं नागनपालै: पालयेत्‌ | हस्तिघातिनं हन्यु: | दन्त युगं स्वयं मृतस्याहरत: सपादचतुष्पणो लाभ: |
1. Wastelands should be developed in to Pasturelands
2.a. Bráhmans shall be provided with forests for gurukuls , vegetable plantation, for religious learning, and for performing Somyag, and keeping cows. The area of this land should be the distance from where a cow can be heard roughly about 3KM across.
b. For the performance of penance by sages, similar forests areas safe from the dangers from animate or inanimate objects being rendered, and being named after the cows name (gótra) resident therein.
c. A forest as extensive as the above, provided with only one entrance rendered inaccessible by the construction of ditches all round, with plantations of delicious fruit trees, bushes, bowers, and thorn less trees, with an expansive lake of water full of harmless animals, and with tigers (vyála), beasts of prey (márgáyuka), male and female elephants, young elephants, and bisons—all deprived of their claws and teeth—shall be formed for the king's sports.
3.On the extreme limit of the country or in any other suitable locality, another game-forest with game-beasts; open to all, shall also be made.
4.In view of procuring all kinds of forest-produce described elsewhere, one or several forests shall be specially reserved. Manufactories to prepare commodities from forest produce shall also be set up. Wild tracts shall be separated from timber-forests.
4. In the extreme limit of the country, elephant forests, separated from wild tracts, shall be formed. The superintendent of forests with his retinue of forest guards shall not only maintain the up-keep of the forests, but also acquaint himself with all passages for entrance into, or exit from such of them as are mountainous or boggy or contain rivers or lakes. Whoever kills an elephant shall be put to death. Whoever brings in the pair of tusks of an elephant, dead from natural causes, shall receive a reward of four-and-a-half panas.

Suggestions by an experts committee on enhancing leaf fodder availability in India (1989)
An integrated approach for the restoration and benefit of the community needs
to be adopted for temperate, tropical, and semi-arid fodder trees. Attention must be
focused on the following aspects while formulating government policies for
various integrated systems:
Promising trees and shrubs for introduction into the various climatic zones of
India must be identified, with simultaneous development of easy and quick
methods of raising suggested fodder trees under various integrated systems.
A rational proportion of tree and shrub cover in grazing lands needs to be
An efficient marketing network is needed to accelerate the judicious use and
to set proper prices for minor products.
The two-tier concept, providing forage to the animal population and
increasing the carrying capacity of the grazing lands, must be promoted. The
heterogeneity ensures better use of environmental resources as the biomorphs
are of different heights and their roots extend to different depths.
A diversified or multitiered silvipasture system, that will ensure better use of
solar energy, capture efficiency, and energy flow to the food chain, should be
People's involvement for proper restoration of fodder trees should be sought
while afforesting community lands.
The Van Panchayats (community tree plantations in villages) need to be
administered by a single department and a village committee should decide
on the areas to be used, the species to be planted, and on the protection and
maturity of plants. Enough fodder should be available within a 7 km walking
There should be a complete ban on the industrial use of fodder trees.
The principle of shrubs and fodder tree management should sustain supplies
of fodders together with rest periods to ensure recovery from any damage
caused by partial defoliation.
Lopping management varies from species to species depending on their
growth capacity after lopping, their active growing period, their period of leaf
fall, etc. However, the following guidelines can be kept in mind about their
management: fresh leaves should not be lopped as they are often toxic;
saplings and poles should not be lopped; about two seasons' rest is required
after lopping for recovery; lopping may be restricted to the lower two-thirds
of the crown, the upper one-third can produce the feed; at the time of
lopping, branches having a diameter of over 7.5 cm should be avoided; and
lopping should be avoided as much as possible on eroded areas or on areas
prone to erosion.
The incorporation rate of tree leaves and pods into the diets of different
livestock, without loss of animal performance, should be determined.
Large-scale production of complete pelleted feeds for sheep and goats should
be attempted by incorporating different tree leaves and pods that have fallen
to the ground.
The chemical composition of leaves and pods, nutritive values, and toxic
factors and the methods to remove them need to be studied.
The economic feasibility of incorporating fodder leaves and pods into
livestock diets needs to be determined.

Soil in Pastures
It has been observed that calves get affected with Rickets in spite of ample sunshine and plenty of Milk, on certain soil types of low fertility. Fertility of Soil is best nurtured and sustained by Rumens- Cows’ Urine and Dung.
During War time England, deliberately reduced its population of pigs and poultry to rely more on cow rumens to maintain the soil fertility.
A good pasture ecosystem will have certain physical factors, the soil, water, and air, that determine what microbes, plants and animals will live there.
The microbes, plants, and animals together with the soil, water and air they live in create the ecosystem.
These areas were often open spaces of low growing, grass, herbs, weeds, shrub vegetation suitable for grazing livestock.
Often the soil may not be suitable for growing a strong yield of crops or inaccessible for harvest equipment. Such as the undulating rocky areas and waste lands like in Mewat. It is in these very soils and locations that Pasture lands can be developed for our starving cows.
Urine and dung of these cows will enrich and restore the mineral balance of the soils in these waste lands.
Technological interventions for developing such waste lands can proceed on following basis.
1. Allocation and marking of such land. Local volunteers can be assigned to survey the available lands in coordination with local Panchayat level, land record coordinating agencies. A hand held GPS route recorder can mark and fix the land locations.

These parcels of land can be referred to as rangeland, prairie or tame seeded grasses.
Much of the Canadian prairie landscape is composed of rangeland, where the natural vegetation is native species of grass, forbes and shrub. Community grazing land in Saskatchewan are almost always rangeland.
PrairieGrazing of cattle pastures can improve soil quality
Date: 22/03/2011
Researchers with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) found that if cattle are managed so that they graze moderately, soil quality can be restored and emissions of carbon dioxide can be reduced. The researchers varied the number of cattle per acre and assessed how the soils responded to different grazing scenarios. Under each scenario, they looked at the amount of soil compaction that occurred, the amounts of organic carbon and nitrogen in the soil, and the amounts of surface plant residues, which help prevent erosion. They also looked at how the soil responded to three different fertilizer treatments (inorganic, mixed inorganic and organic broiler litter).
From an environmental standpoint, grasslands have traditionally been viewed as best managed by leaving the land unused. But the team found that while fertilizer type made little difference, different grazing scenarios produced different effects, and the grazed land produced more grass than the ungrazed land and had the greatest amount of carbon and nitrogen sequestered in soil. Sequestering carbon and nitrogen in soil has become a major goal for agriculture, since sequestration reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Further research findings will be published in the March 2011 issue of Agricultural Research magazine. (Source: USDA ARS, March 2011)


Visit this site

Optimising nutrient cycles with trees in pasture fields
Written by Karl North
Download PDF
The main weakness in sustainable grassland farming in humid ecosystems is the leaching of soil nutrients below the root zone of most forage species. Nature’s solution is a tree-dotted savanna – a system where the deeper roots of trees bring up leached minerals, via leaf and fruit drop. You can re-design pasture farms to copy such natural systems, as this example from the Northeast United States shows.

LEISA Magazine • 24.2 • June 2008

Optimising nutrient cycles with trees in pasture fields
Karl North
The main weakness in sustainable grassland farming in humid ecosystems is the leaching of soil nutrients below the root zone of most forage species. Nature’s solution is a tree-dotted savanna – a system where the deeper roots of trees bring up leached minerals, via leaf and fruit drop. You can re-design pasture farms to copy such natural systems, as this example from the Northeast United States shows.
Most off-farm inputs, such as inorganic fertilizers, are dependent on cheap fossil fuel. To the farmers at Northland Sheep Dairy in New York, U.S.A., sustainability means relying more on the farm’s own natural resources rather than off-farm inputs. Basic requirements for farming system sustainability are: • healthy water and mineral cycles, apart from minerals lost in product sales, which we replenish with rock powder inputs; • good energy capture and use, for example in the shape of soil organic matter; and • optimum biodiversity.
What is Pulsed Grazing ?
Pulsed Grazing is a method of repeated grazing of paddocks (fenced off parts of a field) in a pasture. It controls livestock density and the timing of livestock movement to maximise forage production over the growing season. This in turn maximises manure production to build soil organic matter. Forage plants experience repeated pulses of growth and removal of biomass, both above and below ground, over the growing season. Key aspects:
• Livestock enter a paddock before forage leaves its vegetative stage and growth slows.
• Livestock leave a paddock while there is still sufficient forage leaf area to jump-start regrowth.
• Grazing causes forage roots to die back, which adds soil organic matter from the dead root mass.
• Livestock return to the same paddock when leaf and root regrowth have fully recovered vigour and ability to recover from another grazing.
Soils high in organic matter are central to establishing water and mineral cycles. Soils in humid temperate regions are exceptional in their ability to accumulate organic matter over years. Fifty years ago, André Voisin’s book “Grass Productivity” stated that “pulsed grazing” (see Box) on permanent pasture is the fastest soil organic matter building tool that farmers have, at least in temperate climates. So we tried to design our whole agroecosystem to adapt and improve on the natural grass-ruminant ecosystems that helped create the deep topsoils of midwestern North America. In summary, the design focuses on three crucial areas:
1. Pasture management for a wide variety of productive, palatable perennial forages, kept in a vegetative state via pulsed grazing throughout the growing season to maximise biomass production;
2. Manure storage in a deep litter bedding pack under cover that is refreshed daily during the cold season to maximise nutrient retention (i.e. so that no nitrogen escapes as ammonia) and livestock health;
3. Composting the bedding pack to a proper carbon/nitrogen ratio during the warm season to maximise organic matter production, nutrient stabilisation and retention, and spreading the compost during the warm season as well, to maximise efficient nutrient recycling to the soil.
This design is working well on our farm and confirms Voisin’s thesis: within a few years our forage production tripled, and soil organic matter is slowly improving. The weakest link in the mineral cycle in our wet climate is nutrient losses to leaching.
Integrating deep-rooted trees into the system
Our solution was to design such a model for our area: forage fields that will incorporate enough trees and other deep rooted plants to mend the break in the mineral cycle (see Figure). Trees can make the system more productive and healthier than forest and pasture separately. In Cuba we have seen such systems for orchard or timber production in pastures surrounded by live legume fence posts that were regularly cut for forage. We can take our cue from the Cuban model, but we must adapt it to the temperate climate of our area.

Figure: Trees reach down into the deep soil, bringing up minerals that would otherwise have leached out into groundwater.
To mend the mineral cycle broken due to leaching, we aimed to maximise trees per acre, along with deep-rooted perennial forages like chicory that we added to the hay/pasture species mix. But we needed to space the trees to complement and improve hay and pasture production, not compete with it. So there were conflicting goals, and we had to find a balance between them. We chose tree species and spacing to achieve:
• High shade. To spread shade, and therefore spread lounging livestock, manure and wear on the vegetative cover evenly in the field. Tall, narrow trees spread shade through the day in a wide arc that covers much ground. Short blocky tree shapes throw a shade pattern that covers less ground over the day.
• Optimal shade. For soil moisture retention, forage growth and forage species diversity. Forage in hotter climates will benefit from closer spacing.
• Easy machine harvesting of forage in between the tree rows. Of the three machines we use (mower, tedder/rake, and baler) we based the spacing on the widest machine.
In view of these conflicting requirements we have proceeded cautiously by spacing trees widely at first, and adding more later on as experience shows the need. We started with a tree species called “honey locust” (Gleditsia triacanthos) because it serves multiple functions. It is a legume tree that adds nitrogen to soil; it is a nutritious and palatable forage for either cut-andcarry or browsing by large animals like our work mules; and its shape and small leaves provide the light and high shade that our pasture and sheep management requires.
Later we plan to add trees that can produce a food product such as hazelnuts or chestnuts. For several years we have been thinning an old apple orchard and grazing it with sheep and horses. We are trying to find the optimal spacing between trees to achieve the best sun/shade mix for pasture grass growth. We feel that there is much to learn about how trees, grazing animals and grasslands can be managed to work together to maximise the productivity of the whole beyond that of each one managed separately. In the area, farms practising similar systems are still rare. Interest in low input systems is growing as inputs become too expensive, but policy support is still poor.
Karl North. Northland Sheep Dairy, 3501 Hoxie Gorge Rd, Marathon, New York, U.S.A.
E-mail: ;

- Voisin, André, 1959 (English translation in 1988). Grass productivity. Island Publishers, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.