Date of Award
Senior Honors Thesis
College or School
Natural Resources and the Environment
Program or Major
Environmental Science: Soil & Watershed Management
Bachelor of Science
The expansion of local agriculture in the New England region is putting increased pressure on farmers to expand their arable land base. While clear-cutting is a traditional method of converting forested land to agriculture, it is known for having adverse ecological impacts. To minimize these impacts, farmers can create a silvopasture which incorporates a portion of the original forest canopy into pastures or crop fields. This study evaluates the impact of land-use changes for agriculture on soil nitrogen (N) retention. In particular, this study investigates the differences in soil N turnover, gaseous loss, and aqueous loss among an established forest, established pasture, clear-cut converted pasture, and converted silvopasture systems over a 30day incubation period. We found significant differences in N mineralization, immobilization, and denitrification among treatments, with evidence that a forest-to-silvopasture conversion can successfully support soil N retention within the first two years of implementation. This may have been due to the presence of coarse woody debris inputs from forest cutting and its effect on the soil carbon (C) to N ratio. Nitrogen retention in silvopastures may also result from partial preservation of the forest canopy. Our results suggest that farmers looking to expand their agricultural land base through forest clearing may be able to use silvopastures for as a way of retaining soil nutrients while at the same time putting land into production.
Slebodnik, Kathryn Ann, "Effects of Silvopasture Establishment on Aqueous and Gaseous Soil N Losses at the University of New Hampshire Organic Dairy Research Farm" (2017). Honors Theses and Capstones. 320.