Adapted Keyline® Design Fodder Forest via Hardwood Establishment.

Robinia’s client for this project was focused on cultivating the wildness in life and inoculating its local community with such life’s abundance, wonderment, and health. This adapted keyline fodder-forest project was designed to inspire wildlife species and pollinators, heal eroding hillsides and gullies, establish perennial and permanent stands of vegetative and woody growth, and expand the access of farm’s livestock using strategic shade and fodder.

Through an intensive silvopasture and adapted keyline system, this fodder-forest design aims to sequester more carbon, build topsoil, cultivate biodiversity, and increase water/mineral cycles through improved shade cover, tree-hay possibilities via hardwood coppicing, and increased access to secondary compounds (phytochemcials) for ruminants.

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NDVI Mapping

The Problem

Via Robinia’s NDVI-equipped Atonomous Drone Technology, we were able to map and measure the photosynthetic activity of vegetation at the soil surface post management or impact events, such as cattle or sheep grazing.

Low Photosynthetic Activity
The RED section on far N and far S side of pasture. All low-spots with standing water and shady zones are highly overgrazed. Severe animal impact focused in shady areas and where they can cool off during heat of summer sun.

High Photosynthetic Activity
Green section through middle and on the SE / uphill side of pasture is barely grazed. Same conclusion as above: animals are not impacting high solar exposure areas and leaving about 33-40% vegetative matter in tact, even during mob grazing events.

Keyline Design in Virginia

The Solution

Given the rich data supplied by Robinia’s NDVI Drone Technology, we were able to construct a design within the geometric patterns of Keyline Design that solved the thermal / solar exposed pasture issues with subsoiler activity alongisde strategic hardwood tree plantings.

This design calls for 3,000 shrubs and trees that stack below functions:

  1. Nitrogen fixing
  2. Native to the Central Virginia / Piedmont Ecoregion
  3. Hardy and fast-growing
  4. High fodder potential for grazing ruminants.

The Plan: on the bottom side of the “rip line,” plant Black Locust, Indigobush, Black Locust, Honey locust @ 3-4’ spacing. 3 years post implementation, coppice
30% of BL and diversify plantings with desired species to meet context.

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