Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Council Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 15, 2007
Publication Date: June 24, 2007
Citation: Stout, R.C., Sanderson, M.A., Hall, M., Goslee, S.C., Gonet, J.M. 2007. Utilization of Pasture Seed Mixtures in the Northeast USA. American Forage and Grassland Council Conference Proceedings. June 24-27, 2007. State College, PA. CDROM. Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.
Technical Abstract: Terms such as “plant species diversity” and “species mixture complexity” are used to describe and quantify characteristics of plant communities found in pastures, and have drawn increased attention from the scientific community. Livestock producers use many methods to alter these characteristics in pastures, including: grazing management strategies; field renovation (altering field conditions to improve/enhance the growth and competitiveness of desirable plant species); re-seeding (planting new forages into an existing sod which is either alive or has been suppressed/killed); and establishment (planting new forage species into a field not previously grazed) of new pastures. Two of the methods listed, re-seeding and establishment, are accomplished by planting new forage species into the pasture. To date, most of the research on these plant characteristics, and how they affect pasture productivity and animal performance, has been conducted at the plot-scale rather than whole farm-scale. Livestock producers throughout the northeast USA were surveyed to determine: 1) whether they had re-seeded old pastures or established new pastures within the last two years; 2) which plant species (grasses, legumes, forbs) they selected for planting; and 3) how they made decisions regarding number and combination of species to plant, seeding rates to use, and assessing field conditions for plant suitability. Preliminary data indicate a wide range in number (two to nine) of forage species in seed mixtures, with white clover, orchardgrass, and red clover among the most frequently selected. While about 40% of the plantings were of two-species mixtures (mainly grass-legume), the majority of plantings contained three or more species. From this information, we intend to enhance our understanding of plant species diversity and complexity as it relates to farm-scale scenarios of pasture productivity and animal performance across a widerange of conditions.