Grass-legume mixtures benefit forage productivity, quality and stand persistence, according to a new bulletin from the University of Wyoming Extension.
The results are from three years of tests at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center near Lingle, said extension forage specialist Anowar Islam, one of the authors.
At least 25 percent legumes in a mixed stand can produce higher yield and quality than monoculture alfalfa and nitrogen fertilized grasses, he said. A 50-50 percent mixture would be the optimum seeding proportion of meadow bromegrass and alfalfa under Wyoming conditions.
The bulletin, “Grass-legume mixtures improve forage yield, quality, stand persistence,” B-1309, is available for viewing and free download by going towww.uwyo.edu/uwe and clicking on Find a Publication. Type the title or number in the search field. The bulletin is available in pdf, HTML or ePub formats.
Ranchers have known prairie dogs can reduce rangeland forage by as much as half, but prairie dogs may significantly increase the quality of forage that regrows, according to research by a University of Wyoming master’s student.
Lauren Connell said forage clipping by prairie dogs maintains a younger plant growth stage, and its palatability is significantly more nutrient-rich.
Her preliminary data is based on forage quality samples collected on and off prairie dog colonies from four sites in the Thunder Basin National Grassland in June, July and August and biomass samples in August.
Her research suggests the prairie dog-livestock relationship mimics the historic prairie dog-bison structure. Perennial rangeland plants evolved with intense, short-term grazing by bison and the grazing leads to new, highly nutritious leaves.
Prairie dogs foraging and associated soil disturbance removes dead plant material, establishes grasses and forbs in a high state of nutrition and maintains that quality for a longer period of the growing season, she said.
“That can be a benefit to cattle,” said Connell, a student in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Alfalfa seed has already been planted to start a three-year study in three states to develop potassium information and improve alfalfa production and quality within the central and western U.S.
Plots were seeded earlier this month at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center near Lingle, with additional studies near Fort Collins, Colo., and Manhattan, Kan., said Anowar Islam, University of Wyoming Extension forage specialist.
The field studies are part of a $250,000 USDA grant Islam received. Collaborators include forage specialist Joe Brummer of Colorado State University and forage management assistant professor Doo-Hong Min at Kansas State University.
Islam said the benefits could be extensive.
“Our potassium fertility management program will improve persistence of alfalfa stands through better nutrient management,” he said.
Scientists will focus on alfalfa growth, yield and quality by applying different levels of potassium under two cutting intervals. Potassium uptake data and forage quality of selected alfalfa cultivars (low lignin vs. conventional) at different stages will be collected.
Information will be disseminated through a planned regional alfalfa workshop with state-specific results through local extension programs and by articles and bulletins.
Islam said the information will modify outdated central and western U.S. alfalfa soil fertility guides. The group will initiate an alfalfa community of practice within eXtension, a long-term venue of communicating the latest findings on alfalfa nationally and internationally.
Contact Islam at 307-766-4151 or email@example.com for more information.
Forage production and management and tools to help alfalfa and forage growers produce the best possible yield and quality are part of the Wyoming Forage Field Day Tuesday, June 14, at Sheridan.
The fifth-annual event is 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Sheridan Research and Extension Center (ShREC) at Sheridan College. Registration, encouraged by June 3 to ensure a free lunch, is free, and the event is open to the public.
University of Wyoming Extension forage specialist Anowar Islam said the event is farmer-focused, “especially for those who want alfalfa and improved forages in their cropping/animal production systems and improve yield, quality and profitability.”
Full program details are at bit.ly/forageday.
There are more than 13 presentations, ranging from 10 to 40 minutes. A panel of producers is in the afternoon and machinery and equipment demonstrations end the day.
Register by calling ShREC at 307-673-2856 or at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Islam at 307-766-4151 or email@example.com.
A national award-winning livestock extension program is again being offered for 2015-2016 beginning in May and ending in February.
The High Plains Ranch Practicum is an eight-day, hands-on educational program hosted by the University of Wyoming Extension and designed to give participants the skills and application of management tools needed in today’s complex ranching industry, said Dallas Mount, UW Extension educator.
Session locations this year include near Ucross and Glendo. Enrollment is limited to 35. Participants must apply by May 15. For additional information or an application, contact Mount at 307-322-3667 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://HPRanchPracticum.com.
“If you have ranched all your life, or if you are new to ranching, this school will teach valuable, necessary skills for running a successful ranch,” said Mount, an instructor in the practicum. “Dad taught us how to build a fence and feed a cow, but he didn’t teach us how to build a business that generates an economic profit and supports the people who are building the fence and feeding the cow.”