Main content area

Ecological considerations in sustainable silvopasture design and management

Jose, Shibu, Walter, Dusty, Mohan Kumar, B.
Agroforestry systems 2019 v.93 no.1 pp. 317-331
biodiversity, functional diversity, land use, livestock production, production technology, silvopastoral systems, sustainable land management, systems engineering
Silvopastoral systems are sustainable production systems characterized by greater biodiversity and multifunctionality, compared with other livestock production methods. The complex functional dynamics, however, make silvopastoralism a difficult construct to design and study. The key design criterion for these complex land use practices is to optimize the use of spatial, temporal, and physical resources, by maximizing positive interactions (facilitation) and minimizing negative ones (competition) among the components, for which the principles of sustainable land use systems are relevant. In this paper we address the cardinal questions, how the general ecological principles common to complex natural systems apply to the design and management of silvopastoral systems and how sound management might be identified with the notion of sustained maximum yield. In particular, we explore (1) spatial and temporal heterogeneity for maximizing resource use efficiency, (2) competitive interactions in perennial systems, (3) structural and functional diversity for resource conservation, and (4) integration of the principles of disturbance ecology in silvopastoral system design.