Start Date: Dec 06, 2007
End Date: Jan 12, 2012
Controlled-environment, field-plot, and paddock-scale experiments will be conducted to determine sequences and combinations of forages that expand the duration of forage production, and deliver herbage mass with the energy-to-protein ratio required by grazing livestock when needed. Responses to site specific conditions encountered in traditional open pasture and silvopastoral management will be determined as a function of site conditions, seasonal forage productivity patterns and nutritive value, and the interactive relationship among plant species in the sward. Basic studies linking above- and below-ground processes in forage swards will be obtained by controlled environment and field experimentation on root development and the interaction of plant-derived biomolecules (e.g., polyphenolics) with soil chemical and physical processes. Grazing experiments will result in pasture management practices for economically viable lamb and meat goat production. Carcass and meat quality assessments will be made and evaluated relative to consumer preferences for lean cuts and desirable chemical composition. Small paddock and landscape-scale data mapping will be used to determine how landscape and grazing management practices interact to influence water quality. Findings will provide a framework for evaluating how local agricultural practices influence regional systems in terms of water, nutrient, and pathogen partitioning and transport at multiple scales. Decision support tools will aid in design of pasture systems that synchronize forage quantity and nutritive value with grazing animal requirements while maintaining or improving water resource quality.