The plant-animal interaction cluster develops and evaluates grazing systems that are easily manageable, sustainable and maximizes grazing while reducing producer costs.
Year-round forage systems will be developed with a focus on the pillar species of alfalfa, wheat, tall fescue and bermudagrass. These systems will be evaluated for seasonal forage production, animal performance, persistence and profitability. Existing and new technologies such as sensors and GrowSafe will be used in the development and evaluation of forage systems. This project has three major objectives: 1) a cow-calf study seeks to evaluate the use of bermudagrass, bermudagrass stockpile, cover crops, and wheat/rye winter pasture in treatment combinations to deliver to producers a forage system that maximizes cow-calf grazing while reducing dependency upon the winter feeding of stored hay and supplement; 2) a summer stocker study utilizes combinations of bermudagrass, alfalfa, nitrogen fertilizer, supplemental feed, and continuous and rotational grazing to evaluate animal performance and the economics of a summer stocker system; 3) a study evaluates the effect of a summer cover crop in both tillage and no-tillage systems on subsequent winter pasture production and soil moisture as well as evaluates the soil health of the systems. As forage research needs develop, the plant-animal interaction cluster will develop timelines and strategies for current and future grazing research and facilities.