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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: NATIVE PERENNIAL WARM-SEASON GRASSES AS COMPONENTS OF SUSTAINABLE FARMING SYSTEMS IN THE SOUTHEASTERN USA
2008 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Identify and characterize alternative management strategies in the humid Southeast for integrating gamagrass and switchgrass into traditional pasture and livestock production systems by evaluating interactions between forage management options, plant performance and animal performance, and increased agronomic knowledge for producing biomass crops.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
This project will be conducted jointly between USDA-ARS and the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service representing a true cooperative program (Burns, 2006). In this program the state of North Carolina contributes experimental animals and major field, animal, and laboratory facilities and technical assistance as well as routine maintenance needs for all facilities to meet the objectives of the research and the contributions from both will be detailed below.


3.Progress Report
Information is being obtained on the quality and utilization of four subtropical grasses and two cool-season grass and the associated plant-animal factors that alter their conversion to value added animal products. Two grazing trials were summarized for publication during 2007. One trial (3 years) compared the animal and pasture productivity of Coastal and Tifton 44 bermudagrasses when grazed over a range of herbage mass to determine the optimum. The second trial (4 years) evaluated per animal and per ha productivity of Coastal and Tifton bermudagrasses when topdressed with a range in nitrogen rates and grazed at the optimum herbage mass.

We found that Coastal and Tifton bermudagrasses were well adapted to the Upper South. Tifton generally produced greater steer daily gains than Coastal, but Coastal could be stocked heavier (more steers/ha). When considering greater daily gain/steer from Tifton 44 and greater carrying capacity from Coastal, the productivity of the pastures (total digestible nutrients/ha) were similar. Also, both Coastal and Tifton 44 bermudagrasses were responsive to nitrogen application. Both showed linear responses in terms of pasture productivity from 101 to 303 kg of nitrogen/ha. In intake and digestion trials comparing Coastal, Tifton 44 and Tifton 85 bermudagrass hays at different maturities were summarized for publication during 2007. Generally, Tifton 85 was superior in dry matter digestion compared with either of the other two. Further, Tifton 44 was generally, but not always, superior to Coastal for steer dry matter intake or digestion. Tifton 85 often had greater neutral detergent fiber (cell walls) compared with Coastal, but the cell walls of Tifton 85, and to some extent those of Tifton 44, were more digestible than those of Coastal.

A plant-animal interface trial was completed evaluating the use of temperate legumes (alfalfa and white clover) as a source of nitrogen for switchgrass when grown as a riparian buffer. The area was defoliated by grazing animals to assess the potential contribution of switchgrass riparian zones to a production system. We found that switchgrass was readily grazed but white clover may be too aggressive to maintain switchgrass stands.

Progress relates to National Program 215 - Rangeland, Pasture and Forages; Component 2 - Pasture Management Systems To Improve Economic Viability and Enhance the Environment; Problem Statement E - Need for economically viable pasture-livestock systems for the Mid-South that enhance the environment and Component 3 - Sustainable Harvested Forage SystemsFor Livestock, Bioenergy and Bioproducts; Problem Statement J - Need for economically viable, energy efficient and environmentally enhancing production systems for establishing, growing, maintaining, harvesting, treating, storing and transporting forages for livestock, bioenergy, bioproducts and conservation objectives.


4.Accomplishments
1. “Switchgrass: It’s potential in production systems for the humid Southeast”. Research was conducted to determine if switchgrass was sufficiently pliable to be used as pasture, hay and silage, as well as biomass, in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Switchgrass was grazed to obtain an estimate of steer daily performance and potential pasture production and cut and preserved as both hay and silage to determine its nutritive value and quality. Switchgrass, a major candidate for cellulosic production for biofuel, is sufficiently pliable to be an integral part of ruminant production systems and could cover the landscape in the Mid–Atlantic Region.

National Program 215 - Rangeland, Pasture, and Forages; Component 3 - Sustainable Harvested Forage Systems For Livestock, Bioenergy and Bioproducts; Problem Statement J - Need for economically viable, energy efficient and environmentally enhancing production system for establishing, growing, maintaining, harvesting, feeding, and transporting forages for livestock, bio-energy, bio-products, and conservation objectives.


5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
None


6.Technology Transfer

Number of New Germplasm Releases2

Review Publications
Fellner, V., Burns, J.C., Marshall, D.S. 2008. Effects on feeding corn, hull-less or hulled barley on fermentation by mixed cultures of ruminal microorganisms. Journal of Dairy Science. 91:1936-1941.

Burns, J.C., Fisher, D.S. 2007. Diurnal shifts in nutritive value of alfalfa harvested as hay and evaluated by animal intake and digestion.. Crop Science. 47:2190-2197.

Stone, K.C., Hunt, P.G., Millen, J.A., Johnson, M.H., Matheny, T.A., Vanotti, M.B., Burns, J.C. 2008. Forage subsurface drip irrigation using treated swine wastewater. Transactions of the ASABE 51(2):433-440.

Burns, J.C., Godshalk, E.B., Timothy, D.H. 2008. Registration of ‘BoMaster’ switchgrass. Crop Science. 2:31-32.

Burns, J.C., Godshalk, E.B., Timothy, D.H. 2008. Registration of 'Performer' switchgrass. Crop Science. 2:29-30.

Last Modified: 10/30/2014
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