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Tag Archives | forage

Sunn Hemp: Soil-Building Superhero with Forage Potential

Sunn hemp, a tropical plant primarily grown as a cover crop or green manure, has increased dramatically in popularity over the last decade. Originally from India, it’s easy to understand what makes it so popular among vegetable and row crop farmers in the United States.

Grazing must be timed appropriately or sunn hemp will grow beyond the reach of foraging livestock.

Sunn hemp possesses many soil-building traits, including high rates of biomass production — over 20 percent greater than crimson clover and hairy vetch in research trials. It is not only resistant to plant root nematodes but actively suppresses them. In as little as 60 to 90 days it can produce 120 pounds of nitrogen per acre and can suppress weeds up to 90 percent.

Sunn Hemp is adapted to a wide variety of soil and environmental conditions, thriving through hot, dry summers and continuing to grow until the first frost. But sunn hemp isn’t just a soil builder — it also offers benefits as a forage producer. Recent on-farm grazing trials have yielded an abundance of information on using this crop for grazing. Continue Reading →

Pasture Management: Benefits of Biodiverse Forage

Pasture management for livestock far too often falls to using artificial stimulants, and not by selecting the right plants and managing the soil. But the latter is by far the better way.

Cows and calves in the pasture.

The resurrection of interest among graziers in medicinal plants seems to parallel the burgeoning movement of livestock operators in organic (and ecological) meat, milk and egg production, rotational managed grazing, and the stockman’s increasing interest in reducing dependence on pharmaceutical drugs — due to their costs, side effects and concerns over residues in meat, milk and egg products. There are numerous books available on the medicinal properties of various plants, many of which are considered weeds in pastures and meadows on farms.

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Teff Grass as Alternative Forage for Horses

teff erte_002_lhp

Bermudagrass has long been popular as forage for horses, but teff grass has potential as an alternative. Teff is not only palatable for the horses but they’ve shown some preference for it in certain situations, according to a study at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Teff has become popular in the western United States as a horse forage but not yet in the rest of the nation. “There seems to be indecision about it as far as I can tell,” said Ken Coffey, an animal science professor who supervised the study. “It’s getting easier to get seed for it now than in the past, so more people are trying it under different conditions to see if it will work or not.” The researchers compared horses’ preference for teff at four different growth stages with that of Bermudagrass harvested at two maturity stages. The results showed that the horses preferred the teff grass harvested at vegetative growth stages over even vegetative Bermudagrass.

This article appears in the July 2015 issue of Acres U.S.A.