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Grasses and Grazing

Learn about pasture management, stocking rates and grass production from beef and dairy specialists and agronomists around the country.

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Drought continues to cover much of the country, resulting in reduced supplies of quality forage and grain. In an attempt to salvage corn and sorghum crops as a feed, cows are turned into the field to graze the total plants (leaves, stalks and grain). This practice, however, may cost more money than it saves due to production and livestock losses resulting from the presence of aflatoxin, prussic acid or nitrate in the grazed crops.

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Throughout spring and summer, we’ve seen a variety of weedy plants in irrigated cool-season perennial pastures. Often, the first question we’re asked is, “What do I use to kill ____?”

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Native warm-season grasses have long been considered “low-input” forages, having the ability to yield high quantities of forage while requiring limited fertilizer and at lower pH than many of our other common forage species.

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“Mooove me!”

You’ve probably heard those words bellowed as an anxious herd stood at the gate ready to move to greener pastures. But as Dave Pratt of the Ranching for Profit School teaches, the decision to move the cattle to a new paddock shouldn’t be left to the bovines.

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For the past half-century, farmers and ranchers have been depending on chemicals for fertilizer and pest control.

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Let me take you on a wild ride. Every hour during the growing season, a most extraordinary phenomenon occurs in our fields: nitrogen fixation. Modest legume plants with their tiny root nodules quietly extract nitrogen gas from the air and convert this nitrogen into compounds that plants use to create proteins.

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