Forage Production for Limited Resource Producers
Forage and Livestock Production Unit
2013 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Identify forage materials and management practices that extend the productive grazing period of pastures and reduce the need for off-farm purchased inputs in order to reduce costs of production, increase resilience of production systems and reduce economic risks on small and limited resource farms.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
ARS will develop resource-efficient approaches to increasing supply, quality and sustainability of forages for small farms through experiments in controlled environment, in small-plot field trials or on cooperating farmers’ fields. Work will be carried out in cooperation with faculty and staff of Langston University and its Center for Outreach programs.
On low-productivity land typical of that used by small producers, application of nitrogen (N) fertilizer is essential if the benefit of planting cool-season grass is to be realized. However, the effectiveness of fertilizer application varies according to time of year, and, faced with increasing cost of N fertilizer, it is important for small farmers to make the most efficient use of this limited resource. An experiment to evaluate the relative benefit of fall- or spring-applied N for annual ryegrass was repeated in FY2013. Plots of tall fescue were established in early FY2013, to allow further study of the effect of timing of N application on N use efficiency (unit forage produced per unit of N applied) with a perennial cool-season grass. Work with tall fescue is planned to begin in early FY2014.