|Small Farm Systems in Appalachia|
Impacting Underutilized Hill-lands
Appalachian hill-lands suitable for farming are sometimes neglected or under-utilized. Frequently these sites have soil limitations and support plant communities dominated by weeds and woody species that are not usually grazed by cattle and sheep, but can be used by other classes of production livestock or by wildlife. Our understanding of physical and biological characteristics associated with abandonment or degradation of marginal sites is limited. Currently, we are developing plant and soil inventories of sites ranging from well-managed pasture to abandoned hill-land to identify factors associated with plant community structure and herbage composition that lead to or arise from marginal sites. Soil features are considered in terms of physical and chemical properties with special consideration given to the role these sites have for carbon sequestration. We explore the potential of browse herbage to meet the nutritional requirements for meat-type goat production. Since goats prefer weeds and woody species compared to typical forage plants, they could be used in place of herbicides on sites where renovation to traditional pasture is the long-term goal.
Kenneth E. Turner, Research Animal Scientist, Lead Scientist
Kimberly A. Cassida, Agronomist
Jorge Ferreira, Horticulturist
Joyce G. Foster, Research Chemist
K. Dale Ritchey, Soil Scientist