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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Booneville, Arkansas » Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center » Research » Research Project #439384

Research Project: Back to the Future: Improving Productivity, Sustainability, and Resilience of Eastern Grasslands

Location: Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center

Project Number: 6020-21310-011-062-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jan 1, 2021
End Date: Dec 31, 2024

Objective:
The objective is to improve U.S. agriculture's capacity to meet future protein demands through enhanced production, resiliency, environmental sustainability, and enterprise profitability based on practical, ecologically based, forage system innovation.

Approach:
The project team assembled has the complex and complementary set of interdisciplinary scientific and practical skills necessary to do the following: -Planting and evaluation of multiple variations on mixtures of warm-and cool-season grasses and the related forage and animal production, ecological and economic outcomes. The field studies of forage species mixtures will take place in five states (AR, MO, TN), and the results and associated Extension education materials developed will be applicable to production conditions across the fescue-belt. Investigators with plant, soil, ecological, engineering, and economic sciences backgrounds will be involved in this objective. -Cattle-rumen microbiome interactions will be investigated using these various combinations of forage in an effort to further explain differences in feed efficiency during the livestock production cycle. This will involve the work of investigators with animal science backgrounds. -Changes in animal health and welfare will be evaluated using cattle pest pressure to determine any changes in pest level and habitat associated with these new forage mixtures, involving the work of investigators with animal science, entomology, and ecological sciences backgrounds. -A survey will evaluate United States consumers’ understanding, concerns and appreciation for beef production practices, their attitudes on sustainable beef production and their willingness to pay for sustainably produced beef. The survey will be created based on information from focus groups of consumers throughout Tennessee. The University of Tennessee Family and Consumer Sciences faculty working with local Extension agents will administer the focus groups. -The information acquired from the project will be extended to producers across the region through: a) extension agents via in-service training, b) on-farm demonstrations, c) field days and meetings, d) website, videos and appropriate social media. -A demonstration farm on a UTIA Research and Education Center will be utilized to illustrate improved beef and forage production techniques to producers and students interested in sustainable livestock production.