Maxwell livestock farmer Bruce Carney plants trees in his pastures to provide shade for livestock – but also to grow fruits and nuts as an extra farm enterprise that supports the family’s next generation of farmers. The combination of trees, pasture and grazing livestock is called silvopasture, which is a facet of agroforestry.


Bruce and his family will host a field day in partnership with Practical Farmers of Iowa and the Savanna Institute exploring how agroforestry fits into their multi-species livestock operation on Saturday, Aug. 3, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at their farm near Maxwell (13602 NE 96th St., about six miles south of town).


The event – “One Family’s Vision for Agroforestry in Iowa” – is free to attend and will include lunch provided by the Carney family. RSVPs are requested for the meal by Wednesday, July 31. Sign up online at practicalfarmers.org/field-days, or contact Debra Boekholder at debra@practicalfarmers.org or 515-232-5661. The field day is sponsored by Green Cover Seed, Iowa Farmers Union and Prudenterra.


During the field day, guests will have a chance to see recently established trees growing along an installed swale that winds through grazing paddocks. The group will also visit a once-overgrown wooded farmstead nearby where Bruce has used cattle, sheep and goats to clear invasive species in order to promote forage growth.


Bruce will share his experience with adding trees to pasture and thinning woodlands to promote forage growth. He’ll also discuss optimal forage mixes for silvopasture with cattle, sheep and goats; tree fodder and coppicing; adding diverse enterprises to his farm; and transferring land to the next generation.


Other speakers will include Keefe Keeley, from the Savanna Institute, who will speak on the costs and benefits of agroforestry on Midwestern farms; Luke Gran, from Prudenterra, who will discuss Bruce’s forestry plan; and Clint Miller, from Polk County Natural Resources Conservation Service, who will speak on cost-share opportunities for agroforestry practices.


Bruce and his wife, Connie, operate Carney Family Farms with their three adult children – Amber, Jared and Derek – to produce and direct-market grass-fed and grass-finished cattle, hair sheep, pigs and poultry. The farm is located on 300 acres of pasture that was once corn and soybean ground.


Directions to the field day are available on Practical Farmers’ website.


This event is part of Practical Farmers’ main 2019 field day season, which includes 40 events across Iowa, and the region, on topics spanning the agricultural spectrum. The field days are meant to help connect farmers with their peers for networking and farmer-to-farmer learning.


Practical Farmers’ 2019 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Bio Till; Center for Rural Affairs; Gandy Cover Crop Seeders; Grain Millers Inc.; H.A. Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture – Iowa State University; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University; Iowa State Department of Agronomy; La Crosse Seed; Man@Machine; MOSA Certified Organic; Niman Ranch; PepsiCo; Pipeline Foods; Premier 1 Supplies; River Valley Cooperative; Scoular; Sunderman Farm Management; Sunrise Foods International; Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education; Trees Forever; Unilever; Welter Seed & Honey Company.