UVM researcher encourages use of woodchips to reduce winter pasture damage
Source: Univ. of Vermont Cooperative Extension
Woodchip heavy-use areas (aka 'woodchip pads') are an improved type of
livestock holding area that uses large, screened woodchips as
a surface material instead of concrete. Image: UVM Extension
Winter feeding of grazing cattle in cold, humid climates like the Northeast can lead to loss of soil, water quality degradation, and damage to pastures. With climate change resulting in muddier springs and falls, farmers are looking for solutions that are cost effective for protecting both environment and pastures. Joshua Faulkner, UVM Extension Research Assistant Professor and Farming and Climate Change Program Coordinator, offers an innovative option. Faulkner introduced Vermont to its first woodchip heavy-use area in 2016. Designed for use on small to medium farms, the woodchip system reduces pasture damage, increases comfort and performance of cows, and keeps dirty water out of streams and waterways. Faulkner’s research shows that this results in up to a 50% reduction in water runoff. The water that does run off is cleaner, too. There are now six systems in Vermont and New Hampshire with more on the way. Farmers report comfortable animals, reduced wastewater production versus concrete, and reduced implementation costs. These results led the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture to include woodchip pads in their list of conservation practices that are eligible for financial assistance. Learn more at go.uvm.edu/livestockwoodchipuse.