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The sheep act as lawn mowers, weed eaters, do some pruning, and provide much needed fertility. All of these services translate into fewer passes of a tractor through the vineyard. Every opportunity to decrease the number of tractor passes is an opportunity to save money and burn less fossil fuel, not to mention decrease the soil compaction that the weight of a tractor causes.

Credit: Paige Green / Fibershed


Call to action:

Expand the use of silvopasture to improve soil health, raise livestock, diversify incomes, and increase water quality, carbon sequestration, and wildlife habitat.

Silvopasture is the intentional combination of trees, pasture, and livestock in ways that mimic natural ecosystems. It can be a type of regenerative agriculture. Trees provide shade, timber, firewood, food, and shelter. Fallen leaves and branches become mulch, enriching soil with organic matter. Trees and grasses sequester carbon. Livestock can include cattle, goats, and sheep, all of which provide ecological benefits when managed regeneratively. Silvopasture can restore degraded land and provide short- and long-term income sources. It is a type of agroforestry that has been in use globally for centuries. More broadly, it is part of agroecology, a nature-based food production system that integrates ecology, culture, and economics (see Agroecology Nexus and Agroforestry Nexus).

Nexus Rating SystemBeta

Solutions to the climate emergency have unique social and environmental effects, positive and negative. To develop a broader understanding of the solutions in Nexus, we rate each solution on five criteria.

Sources for each Nexus are graded numerically (-3 through 10), and the average is displayed as a letter grade. You can explore each source in depth by clicking “view sources” below. For more information, see our Nexus Ratings page.



Action Items


Learn why silvopasture is a regenerative system of food production and land management. Silvopasture systems are based on the interactions among trees, grasses, and grazing animals in nature. It is a traditional practice with a long history that is becoming popular again. Some systems emphasize animals, including cattle, sheep, goats, llamas, pigs, horses, chickens, yak, and deer. Other types of silvopasture focus on tree crops and wood products, with grazing as a complementary activity. Silvopasture’s integration of trees, plants, and animals in a single system can restore and maintain biologically healthy soil, which is critical to ending the climate crisis. It can eliminate weeds and other undesirable plants. It can facilitate the reintroduction of beneficial fire into ecosystems. It can reforest degraded land, create wildlife habitat, and supply healthy food, including grass-fed meat (see Regenerative Agriculture Nexus and Degraded Land Restoration Nexus). Examples include:

Support silvopasture by buying products from farmers and ranchers who practice agroforestry and regenerative agriculture or from retailers who support them. Purchasing items produced by these methods encourages others to adopt similar practices and goals (see Regenerative Agriculture Nexus and Agroecology Nexus for more suggestions).

Donate to or join organizations that support silvopasture. There are many choices across various subject areas, including volunteer projects and other community-based initiatives. See Key Players below and Key Players in Agroforestry NexusRegenerative Agriculture Nexusand Agroecology Nexus.


Farmers and Ranchers

Adopt silvopasture practices. If you are a rancher, pastoralist, or farmer with livestock, consider implementing silvopasture practices. They can be established on almost any type of arable land. The combinations of trees, plants, and grazing animals are diverse and can be designed to fit the farm. Silvopasture benefits include improved animal health and comfort, better use of marginal farmland, increased carrying capacity, vegetation control, diversified income streams, and improved wildlife habitat. Annual income from crops and livestock can support the farm while the tree and vine crops mature. However, many systems are management intensive and require a diverse skill set. Silvopasture systems can be key to adapting to environmental stress caused by climate change, particularly heat stress. Major factors to do (drawn from the work of silvopasture expert Steve Gabriel) include:

Improve livestock grazing practices. Grasslands and savannahs are home to herds of herbivores, such as bison, which have evolved their grazing behavior over millennia. Mimicking the “graze-and-go” behavior of native herbivores with domesticated livestock supports the biological health of these ecosystems, improves water cyclingreduces erosion, and can increase the amount of carbon that can be sequestered and stored in soils.

Get training in silvopasture and/or consult with experts. There are many resources for farmers and ranchers. The Rodale Institute, a leader in organic and regenerative farming in the U.S., has a consulting guide for landowners. Consultants who work with landowners to improve their land and/or teach workshops and seminars include the Soil Health Academy, the Land Stewardship Project, and Rhizoterra.


Expand research into silvopasture practices and customs. In much of the industrialized world, forestry and agriculture were treated as separate disciplines. In recent years, this situation has changed as researchers study the many interconnections between sustainable farming, forestry practices, and cultural heritage. One example is agroforestry’s potential for ending the climate crisis. Research on silvopasture has lagged behind other subject areas, but it has made important strides in recent years. Additional work by will help make silvopasture more useful to farmers, ranchers, and others. Topics include:


Implement policies and remove barriers so that farmers can more easily transition to silvopasture and agroforestry systems. Policies need to be adopted and implemented that support silvopasture, particularly in regions with chronic poverty and hunger. This includes supporting on-farm innovation, removing barriers for farmers transitioning to silvopasture systems, and providing funding for research and training programs. For recommendations, see Agroforestry Nexus and Agroecology Nexus.


Support farmers and ranchers who wish to implement or expand silvopasture practices. In the U.S., the 2023 Farm Bill proposed a significant boost in funding for federal programs that could be used to implement silvopasture. In New England, the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture is provides funding to farmers who wish to plant fruit and nut trees in their pastures.

Key Players


Sharing Our Roots (U.S.) promotes poultry-centered silvopasture.

World Agroforestry is a global center for research and implementation.

Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (University of California, Santa Cruz)

Agroforestry Net is an online library and resource center.

Agroecology in Action focuses on implementing research.

Food Tank is a think tank for sustainable food.

World Future Council identifies solutions, polices, and practices that promote agroecology, food security, and biodiversity.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), leads the UN’s effort to defeat hunger and achieve food security.

CGIAR delivers critical science and innovation to transform the world’s food, land, and water systems in a climate crisis.


Steve Gabriel is a silvopasture specialist, farmer, and author.

Greg Judy is a rancher, educator, and expert in high-density grazing.

Mark Shepard is a farmer and agroforestry specialist.

Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin is an advocate for poultry-centered agroforestry.

Keefe Keeley is the director of the Savanna Institute.

Eric Toensmeier is a carbon farming and perennial plant specialist.

Steve Gliessman is a scientist and professor of agroecology at University of California, Santa Cruz and a leader in agroecology research.

Miguel Altieri is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a pioneer in agroecology research.



Agroforestry Practices: Silvopastoralism by Gerardo Moreno and Victor Rolo

Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture (orig. 1929) by J. Russell Smith

Edible Forest Gardens (2 volumes) by David Jacke and Eric Toensmeier

Food Rebellions: Crisis and the Hunger for Justice by Eric Holt-Gimenez and Raj Patel

A series of books titled Advances in Agroecology by Louise Buck and others, including agroforestry, landscape ecology, and many other topics

Salad Bar Beef by Joel Salatin

Holistic Management by Allan Savory


Silvopasture podcast (Agroforestry series) by Ben Bishop

32 podcasts about silvopasture

Mongabay podcasts on agroecology

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