Concepts and research-based recommendations for forage systems in South Carolina

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2023: $22,000.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2024
Grant Recipient: Clemson University
Region: Southern
State: South Carolina
State Coordinator:
Dr. Matt Smith
Clemson Pee Dee Research & Education Center
The livestock industry is one of the most important agricultural activities in South Carolina. Forages are the primary feed source for livestock due to the favorable climatic conditions for forage plant growth, a wide range of adapted forage species, and regionally available nutrient sources (e.g., poultry litter). Perennial grasses are the primary forage species used, and bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum), bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon), and tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) are widely planted. These grasses rely on nitrogen (N) inputs (inorganic fertilizer or animal manures) to sustain forage production and persistence and support animal performance. Seasonality of forage production is a significant challenge for livestock operations and requires planning to provide a year-round supply of feed (e.g., hay, stockpiled forages). If off-farm inputs (e.g., supplements) are required to support the cattle herd, their cost impacts the profitability of operations and limits their ability to implement adequate management and sustainable practices. Due to the favorable weather conditions in the Southeast region, forage systems can be managed year-round to optimize forage production and environmental benefits while decreasing off-farm inputs. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when planning a forage budget for an operation. It is essential to understand the plant and animal needs, the management skills required, and the goals and budget of the operation. Expanding our field of view beyond South Carolina to a global scale, increasing population, and limited area for agricultural expansion has led to a growing focus on sustainable intensification. This approach aims to enhance food and fiber production by optimizing resource use efficiency in agricultural areas and decreasing environmental impacts. Within the livestock sector, there is increasing interest in adopting improved practices that can contribute to enhanced forage production and quality, improved soil fertility and health, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Forage-based livestock systems can contribute significantly to these sustainability goals because soils under perennial forages store large amounts of organic carbon, a key determinant of soil health and an essential nutrient and water-holding component of agricultural soils.
Liliane Severino da Silva, Clemson University
Susan Duckett, Clemson University
Matthew Burns, Clemson University
Matias Aguerre, Clemson University
Brian Bolt, Clemson University
Matthew Fischer, Clemson University
Michael Marshall, Clemson University
Jeremy Greene, Clemson University
Matt Hersom, Clemson University
Kendall Kirk, Clemson University
Patricia Scharko, Clemson University
Nathan Smith, Clemson University
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Ordering info:
Liliane Severino da Silva
[email protected]
Clemson University
64 Research Road
Blackville, SC 29817
(352) 871-5830
This product is associated with the project "2023 Model State Program - Clemson University"
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.