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Experts: Pasturing Is Agronomic Art
(Continued from Page AM)
grow soybeans, cam, alfalfa, but
have forgotten how to grow grass,”
’Timing is key. It’s (a matter of
knowing) why it happens and
when it happens,” Craig said.
According to Craig, key. to
understanding the potential of pas
turing, is to understand die plants
themselves what time of year
and how often they can be grazed.
It is also key that a farmer con
sidering increasing the use of pas
tureland must be realistic. Craig
said. “Instead of trying to make
things grow where they’re not sup
posed to grow,” Craig said, pro
ducers should concentrate on areas
where forage production is
In his preview. Craig said that
three things have to come together
in order for pasturing to work
the needs of the plant being for
aged, the needs of the animal, and
the abilities of the producer.
“By understanding the basics,
you get an understanding of every
thing else,” he said.
Pysher, in trying to make a point'
that pastures need to be cultivated
in order for them to provide the
types of returns and dependability
that is needed to support livestock
production, joked that he was sure
that pastureland was sacreo
ground it had to be, he said, ”...
because the lime and fertilizer
buck are never allowed anywhere
The major goal of prescribed
pasturing is to provide quality for
age for grazing animals throughout
the growing season. Also, he
reiterated what Craig said about
effective pasturing being a combi
nation of meeting the needs of the
animal with the needs of the plant
The key, according to all speak
ers, was the farmer himself the
farmer’s ability to keep records,
his efforts to leam about the plants
that may work into a program on
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his specific Cum, and hit ability to
realistically analyze his land’s
The end result is not an isolated
practice, but an integral practice, if
pasturing is to be done correctly.
The end result is a grazing system.
Pysher reviewed the basics of
plant growth, but emphasized the
difference between managing
plant growth feu condnous grazing
stand production, and managing
plant growth for fall harvest
The difference is in understand
ing how plants operate.
Of the sunlight, water and car
bon that plants combine into
growth, a certain portion of the
carbohydrates manufactured dur
ing pbolosynthisis is stored in the
root system as reserves.
It is these reserves that an estab
lished plant uses to generate new
growth, once the stems and leaves
have been lost, either through
season-end die-back, or through
removal by grazing or cutting.
If the plant is grazed too often,
the root reserves are drained,
resulting in plant death or poor per
formance. If the plant is grazed too
far down to the ground, the growth
zone is removed and further
growth must come from the base of
the plant, or the root, which
requires more energy by the plant
If the plant is not grazed soon
enough, it will go into its reproduc
tive stage and lose its feed
Balancing the management of
the animals, with the management
of the forage plants is the role of
Pysher talked briefly about a
couple of different types of forage
plants most commonly in use, such
as Kentucky Bluegrass, and he
described its reserve energy stor
age in shallow roots called
He compared that with Orchard
Grass, which typically stores its
regrowth energy above the soil
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line, in the first three inches. If a
producer allows an animal to graze
the plant below that point, there is
no reserve for regrowth.
“You have to understand the
morphological differences,” he
also said, between a plant in its
vegetative stage and its reproduc
Although, none of the experts
used the analogy, anyone who has
raised and harvest aspargus,
knows that the edible part is the
shoot, and a single plant can send
up a number of shoots during a sea',
son„ allowing for a relatively long
If the asparagus plant's shoots
aren’t cut off, and die shoot is
allow to grow, the plant goes into
its reproductive stage, which
resemebles a green leafy bush, and
eventually goes into seed
Similarly, the grasses, legumes,
brassicas, and other plants which
can be used to establish a produc
tive pasture are used to forage
while in the vegetative stage, when
moisture, energy, palatibility, and
digestabUity are high in quality,
and yield is still good.
There is more yield in allowing
a plant to go into the reproductive
stage, but the quality for forage is
low, and the plant isn’t as likely to
The balancing act comes at try
ing to graze a particular plant after
it has reached a height that is pro
tective of its regenerative abilities
near the soil, but not yet mature
enough to begin developing tough
Dr. Hall, who has published
much of the findings of Dr. Jung’s
35 years of work with pasture
research for Extension use, dis
cussed improving pasture produc
tivity, specifically as to the funda
mentals of cool season forage
According to Hall, generally
through a season, there are two
Uncwiar Farmktg, Saturday, March % IN4-A3
periods of growth in the spring
into early summer, and again from
the fall into early winter. The sum
mer slump, when there is no
growth, .is something producers
have to learn to live with.
While Hall doesn’t necessarily
recommend that beginning pastur
ets concern themselves with some
of the plants which can be also
raised in a pasture to provide sum
mer forage, he said there is poten
tial using warm season grasses and
brassicas to attend pasture use lon
ger into summer and fall.
Hall outlined the fundementals
of timing with grazing, talking
about the quick rcgrowth of spring
and the shorter intervals of rest
required for a pasture between
grazings during that time.
He said that cool season peren
nials are the backbone of pasturing
in Pennsylvania, and they need to
be nurtured just as well.
He suggested taking soil tests,
sampling no deeper than three
He also talked about identifying
existing plants, and techniques for
creating an established pasture.
Fertilization, grazing and haying,
and weed control arc issues to be
concerned with, he said.
Poor fertilization results in
weeds outcompeting desired
plants. The timing of grazing arid
haying is as critical as though alfal
fa was being harvested for maxi
mum protein and energy.
He gave a number of specific
tips on management, all of which
are available through Extension
services. He warned against puting
manure on young legumes, which
actually helps the grasses and
weeds to growth, not the legumes;
applying fertilyzer after first graz
ing. or an August grazing; and
redefining the term, “weed.”
For example, a variety of chick
ory, commonly considered a weed,
and which previously required a
permit to raise, can now be grown
because of its nutritional value as
Hall calls diem forage weeds.
“Generally, weeds do not influ
' ences a pasture persistence, once
the pasture is established,” he said,
adding that, like other established
stands of plants, eventually pests,
poor soil fertility, or poor grazing
management can destroy the stand
and allow an opportunity for
weeds to become established.
In his talk. Jung discussed the,
variety of plants which can and
perhaps should be found in a pas
ture, because of the animal bene
fits. He said there are a number of
different plants which can provide
minerals in good quantities, in
addition to plants which provide
energy and protein.
He also talked about some var
ieties of plants, such as the brass!-
cas, which can be used for late fall
grazing, and switch grass, a native
grass, which has demonstrated
some remarkable abilities to pro
In fact, he said that in Switzer
land, producers were trying to imi
tate American dairy production
and reduced the number of verities
of plants in pasture to one or two.
They experienced a number of ani
mal health and nutrition problems,
WASHINGTON, D.C. The
U.S. Department of Agriculture is
inviting dairy farmers, milk
cooperative associations, milk
handlers (shippers) and consum
ers to testify at a hearing on prop
osals to amend the Middle Atlan
tic federal milk marketing order.
The hearing will begin on May
2 at 9 a.m., at the Holiday Inn-
Independence Mall, 400 Arch
Street, Philadelphia, Pa.
Lon Hatamiya, administrator of
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing
Service, said a federation of dairy
■producer cooperatives, which
requested the hearing, proposes to
amend the order’s “pooling” pro
visions. At issue are the rules for
amounts of milk its members must
deliver or distribute under the
order to be eligible to receive the
order’s benefits, he said.
The Middle Atlantic milk mark
eting order affects northern Virgi
nia, eastern Maryland, southeast
ern Pennsylvania, Delaware,
southern New Jersey, and the Dis
trict of Columbia.
Details of the hearing were pub
lished as a notice in the March 4
Federal Register. Copies of the
notice are available from Rex F.
Lothrop, Market Administrator,
Suite 200 Essex Building, 333 N.
Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA.
22314, or USDA, AMS. Dairy
Division, Order Formulation
Branch, Rm. 2971-So. Bldg., P.O.
Box 96456, Washington, D.C.
20090-6456, td. (202) 720-7183,
FAX (202) 7204844.
■ J ®