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Exploring a Novel Goat Silvopasture System for Increased Farm Diversity and Enhanced Ecosystem Services

Silvopasture, a combination of livestock with trees and forages, offers a promising alternative sustainable management system that provides both environmental and economic benefits in an integrated fashion. Due to their innate browsing preference, goats can offer unique ecosystem services to unmanaged wooded landscapes by feeding on invasive brush species, providing an organic, productive alternative to herbicides and machinery typically recommended for silvopasture transition and management.


The overall objective of our project is to examine the viability of a novel goat silvopasture management system instead of open pasture for ecosystem services and economically viable goat production for small and marginalized farmers. We will evaluate the ecological dynamics of goat silvopasture systems in Missouri to enhance productivity, income, and environmental impact.


Impact of Timber Stand Improvement and Prescribed Burn on Forest Farming of Non-Timber Forest Products and Soil Ecological Properties

Forest farming practices involve cultivating high-value specialty crops in the forest understory with specific management of the canopy and the forest overstory to promote the growth and establishment of the desired crop. The understory or specialty crops (Non-Timber Forest Products, NTFPs) can include various items for food (mushroom and nuts), botanicals (herbs and medicinal), decorative (floral greenery and dyes), and handicrafts (baskets and wood products). Although forest farming involves modifying the forest ecosystem, if correctly done, the primary forest functions are not negatively impaired but rather enhanced. This study is designed to evaluate the feasibility of forest farming of four Missouri native perennial herbs and the impact of timber stand improvement (TSI) and prescribed burn (PB) on forest ecosystem processes.


Cover Crop-Based No-Till Systems for Small Vegetable Farmers

Emerging cover crop-based, no-till systems offer solutions to many critical management concerns of organic producers.  However, adoption of these systems by small and mid-sized producers has been greatly limited by the lack of scale-appropriate equipment and strategies.  This project has been designed to develop and promote effective cover crop-based, no-till systems involving frost-killed, spring-terminated, and living mulch systems that could be easily implemented by small producers. 

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