Integrating trees such as a pecan orchard with your grazing system adds biomass to soil, shade for livestock and potential new income for your ranch (originally published for Noble Rancher).
Somewhere between a rural Oklahoma ranch upbringing and his pursuit of a Ph.D. in crop production, Charles Rohla had an ah-ha moment that would shape the rest of his career.
“I realized, money actually can grow on trees,” he recalls with a laugh.
After earning degrees in animal science and agriculture education, Rohla began work at an Oklahoma State University research station, where pecan production piqued his interest.
“That was where I really tied those two things together – that you could raise livestock and trees, producing two valuable crops on the same land,” he says.
He’s spent the past 17-plus years on staff with the Noble Research Institute combining these two passions into a career researching silvopasture – the deliberate integration of livestock and trees, in particular, pecan trees. As Noble has transitioned its mission to regenerative ranching research, Rohla is once again witnessing a revolution in thinking. The nuts growing on the orchard trees might provide the money that makes the cash flow, but the true value is actually growing in the soil bank below.