solution_silvopasture01.jpg

Cows on a hillside between trees.
Bo Jansson / Alamy Stock Photo

Silvopasture

Support SinksLand SinksShift Agriculture Practices
26.58–42.31
Gigatons
CO2 Equivalent
Reduced / Sequestered
(2020–2050)
$206.75–272.91
Billion $US
Net First Cost
(To Implement Solution)
$-3.12–-2.33
Trillion $US
Lifetime Net
Operational Savings
$1.75–2.36
Trillion $US
Lifetime
Net Profit
An agroforestry practice, silvopasture integrates trees, pasture, and forage into a single system. Incorporating trees improves land health and significantly increases carbon sequestration.

Solution Summary*

Silvopasture is an ancient practice that integrates trees and pasture into a single system for raising livestock. Research suggests silvopasture far outpaces any grassland technique for counteracting the methane emissions of livestock and sequestering carbon under-hoof. Pastures strewn or crisscrossed with trees sequester five to ten times as much carbon as those of the same size that are treeless, storing it in both biomass and soil.

Carbon aside, the advantages of silvopasture are considerable, with financial benefits for farmers and ranchers. Livestock, trees, and any additional forestry products, such as nuts, fruit, and mushrooms, generate income on different time horizons. The health and productivity of both animals and the land improve. Because silvopasture systems are diversely productive and more resilient, farmers are better insulated from risk.

Silvopasture often runs counter to farming norms and can be costly and slow to implement. Peer-to-peer education has proven effective for spreading it. As the impacts of global warming progress, appeal will likely grow, because silvopasture can help farmers and their livestock adapt to erratic weather and increased drought. That is the climatic win-win of this solution: Silvopasture averts and sequesters emissions, while protecting against changes that are now inevitable.

* excerpted from the book, Drawdown
Impact:

We estimate that silvopasture is currently practiced on 550million hectares of land globally. If adoption expands to 720-772million hectares by 2050—out of the 823 million hectares theoretically suitable for silvopasture—carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by 26.6-42.3 gigatons. This reduction is a result of the high annual carbon sequestration rate of 2.74 tons of carbon per hectare per year in soil and biomass. Farmers could realize financial gains from revenue diversification of $1.7-2.3 trillion, on investment of $206-273billion and lifetime operational cost of $2-3 trillion to implement.