Submitted to: Brazilian Animal Science Society
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 15, 2012
Publication Date: September 15, 2012
Citation: Anderson, W.F., Lamb, J.F., Wright, D., Tubbs, S., Novak, J.M. 2012. New modes of use and opportunities for research in forage plants [abstract]. Brazilian Animal Science Society. p. 4. Interpretive Summary: Forage grasses and legumes provide energy and fiber for livestock around the world. Due to the high yield, soil enhancement properties and good quality feedstock, many of the forage species are being looked at for non-traditional uses. In some areas of the southern United States grasses such as bahiagrass are being grown for short periods of time in a rotation with cotton and peanut to improve the soil, reduce soil born diseases and provide hay. Some forage legumes are also being planted in cool season while warm-season grasses are dormant to incorporate nitrogen from nitrogen fixation systems. Some high yielding forage species are also being considered for use as bioenergy feedstock due to increasing prices of fuel and environmental concerns of using fossil fuel. All the aspects of non-traditional use of forages are presented as well as the needed research for efficient implementation of these new uses.
Technical Abstract: Forages play an important role in the production of meat and dairy throughout the world. Forages are not only an integral part of human protein production, but they can also improve row crop production management systems, play a role in reducing the dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate environmental concerns such as greenhouse gas emissions and soil erosion. There has been a renewed appreciation for use of forage legumes to enhance soil nitrogen fertility within pasture or harvested biomass systems. Some grass forages are currently being used in sod-based rotations to help mitigate soil-borne diseases and nematodes that attack traditional row crops, while conditioning the soil for improved production of annuals. Some high yielding grasses and legumes are being considered for use as dedicated bio-energy feedstocks. Switchgrass, elephant grass, and forage sorghum are among species that are being genetically altered to increase conversion efficiency to renewable fuels. Alfalfa is being altered to produce higher stem biomass for use as a feedstock while maintaining the leaves as a high protein supplement for livestock. All of these new uses require more research to optimize the benefits that are being discovered. Pasture and agricultural land owners can benefit from research to determine more sustainable production and alternative uses of grass or legumes forages.