Alfalfa and Forage Research Program

Alfalfa and Forage Research Program (AFRP) will support the development of improved alfalfa forage and seed production systems. Proposals submitted to AFRP should address one or more of the following priorities: (1) Improving alfalfa forage and seed yield through better nutrient, water and/or pest management; (2) Improving persistence of alfalfa stands by lessening biotic or abiotic stresses; (3) Improving alfalfa forage and seed harvesting and storage systems to optimize economic returns; (4) Improving estimates of alfalfa forage quality as an animal feed to increase forage usage in animal feeds; and/or (5) Breeding to address biotic and abiotic stresses that impact forage yield and persistence and the production of seed for propagation. Continue reading

UK Horse Pasture Evaluation Program benefits students, farms

by Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky

An equestrian for the past 15 years, University of Kentucky junior Anna Intartaglio loves everything about horses. It’s no surprise she jumped at the chance to spend her summer conducting research that’s meaningful to the industry. As an intern in the UK Horse Pasture Evaluation Program, she has gained a deeper understanding of the industry she loves so much.

“This summer internship has been really fascinating,” said Intartaglio, a native of Greentown, Pennsylvania. “I’ve been learning so much about pastures, horse nutrition, pasture management and farm management.” Continue reading

Flood recovery management for pastures

by Dr. Matt Poore, NC State University Animal Science

We have a lot of questions recently about pasture renovation due to damage caused last year by the drought in the western and central North Carolina and the flood in eastern North Carolina. The drought caused stand damage on many farms across the western region, and also in the east on pastures that stayed under water for ore than a week.   As the weather warms up you should be able to tell which fields have severe long-term damage, which are weakened, and which are in good shape. As you assess your pastures, keep in mind that you really need to be thinking in terms of how much bare ground there is, how much of the cover is desirable forage species, how much is undesirable species (weeds), and whether legumes are present. Your local advisors including your extension agents and conservationists have training on assessing pasture condition, so make sure you seek their guidance as you approach your pasture evaluation. Continue reading

Fungus on tall fescue may cause losses in livestock

in Southeast Farm Press

Tall fescue is a popular grass used for grazing, hay and erosion control in the eastern United States, but one Clemson University expert believes this grass could be responsible for more than $1 billion per year in livestock production losses.

Tall fescue is a perennial bunch-type grass that grows rapidly during spring and fall. The majority of tall fescue plants contain a fungus that creates compounds which are beneficial to the plants, but toxic to livestock. The compounds created by the fungus are called “ergot alkaloids.” Susan Duckett, a professor of animal and veterinary sciences, and some of her students are conducting a study on the impact of these compounds on fetal development and postnatal growth of livestock that graze on tall fescue. Continue reading

UK to host tall fescue pasture renovation workshop

by Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky

Anyone who has spent a considerable amount of time around livestock or forages knows tall fescue is a double-edged sword. University of Kentucky forage specialists are teaming up with the Alliance for Grassland Renewal to host a workshop to teach producers how to renovate their old tall fescue pastures with a novel endophyte variety.

The Tall Fescue Renovation Workshop will take place March 9 at UK’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and UK Spindletop Research Farm. Continue reading

Beware of livestock eating poisonous plants

A post in AgriLife Today about a workshop on managing poisonous plants in pastures motivated me to write a more general article about poisonous plants for livestock in the region. Poisonous plants typically grow in pastures, but during periods of normal weather, livestock usually leave them alone.

However, during periods of drought, as edible grasses wilt or dry up, plants that livestock don’t usually eat start to look promising. If you keep any type of animal that typically grazes, and you’re in an area that isn’t getting much rain, now is the time to start scouting for poisonous plants. Management techniques range from using herbicides to leading animals to areas away from the poisonous plants. If you’re not sure which plants are poisonous, the list of websites below may help with identification. Continue reading

USDA Makes $1.85 Million Available to Improve Alfalfa and Forage Crop Research, Best Practices

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the availability of $1.85 million in funding for the Alfalfa Forage and Research Program (AFRP). This program, administered through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) funds research and extension programs that improve alfalfa forage and seed yield and trains producers to apply best practices.

Deadline: April 13 Continue reading