In the spring of 2006 we received word that our $7,621.00 SARE grant had been approved. The title of the project is “Interseeding Forage Kochia in Established CRP Land for Enhanced Livestock and Wildlife Utilization.” The 114-acre test plot area included 20 plots, 47 feet wide by one mile long. Using ground equipment, the existing grass stand was reduced by 25% in 10 of the plots and 50% in the other 10 plots. On January 2, 2007, the plots were aerial seeded, with 2.2 lbs. of bulk seed planted per acre. The seeds were planted on top of 5-6 inches of snow. Throughout the growing season, the area received less than 50% of normal precipitation resulting in slow seed germination. As a result of late summer precipitation, the plots have experienced a 15-20% forage kochia germination rate. On July 27, as part of the USU Nephi dryland field day, a section on forage kochia including this project was presented. Forty-nine people attended the field day and received training on forage kochia.
The main objectives of the project include the following:
1: Establish a demonstration plot on interseeding forage kochia in existing CRP land.
2: Demonstrate the results of interseeding forage kochia in existing CRP land
3: Increase forage utilization by livestock and wildlife by interseeding forage kochia on existing CRP land.
4: Present the details of the plot as part of the training received on forage kochia during the USU Nephi Dryland Field Day.
On September 14 and 18, 2006, the plot ground work was finished. This included preparing 20 plots, each 47 feet wide by one mile long. Ten of the plots included one pass with a 47-foot chisel plow to thin the existing CRP stand to about 50%. The remaining 10 plots included two passes with the plow to thin the stand to about 25%. On September 15, the area received about ½ inch of rain, which delayed the ground work for two days. Later that fall, a visual observation was made of the test plots. From all indications, the goal of thinning the stands to a 50% and 25% level was accomplished.
Because of the shortage of seed harvested for 2006, our order was reduced by about 10%. The company that we ordered the seed from was extremely helpful and did all that they could to help us with the order. Because of this reduction, we reduced the planting amount per acre to compensate for the shortage. We also encountered two other problems. In the original budget, we estimated the seed cost to be around $6.00/lb. Because of the reduction of available seed and increased demand for the seed, the price increased to $15.00/lb. The other major problem was dealing with the weather. In our original proposal, we were going to use four different methods in planting the seed. These methods included drilling, flying only, flying followed by imprinting, and flying followed by harrowing. Several weeks before obtaining the seed, the area received several snow storms leaving the area covered by several inches of snow. Because of this, ground work was not an option. We discussed the situation with Bob Newhall. Because of the site conditions, we decided to plant the entire area by flying only. On January 2, all the plots were planted by plane. We planted 2.2 lbs/acre of bulk seed. The area was covered with 5-6 inches of snow. The sky was clear and the temperature was in the low 30s. The flying service contracted for the project did an excellent job planting the seed. There was good seed distribution on top of the snow.
Since the January seeding, the project area and this part of the state experienced a serious drought. According to weather statistics, the area received approximately 50% of normal precipitation during the growing season. Because of this, very few seeds germinated in the spring or early summer. After receiving some late summer moisture, an increased number of plants have germinated. It is estimated that on average we experienced a 15-20% germination rate. Depending on the 2008 winter and spring moisture received, it is hoped that more of the seeds will germinate during this coming year.
On July 26, 2007, USU hosted the Nephi Experiment Station Dryland field day. As part of the program, Dr. Blair Waldron, USDA-ARS presented a section on forage kochia. In addition to his presentation, we also discussed the purpose, details, and results at that time of this project. Forty-nine people including producers and agency employees from throughout the state, were in attendance and received training on forage kochia.
Benefits and Impacts
At this time two major short-term impacts have been achieved. These include the establishment of a large-scale forage kochia interseeding demonstration plot and forage kochia education to producers and agency employees. The long-term benefits of the project will include the results of interseeding into existing CRP land and the increased forage utilization by livestock and wildlife. Because the long-term success of this project is subject to future weather conditions, it may be several years before these results can be demonstrated. It is also a goal of the producer to enhance the environmental quality and natural resource base on his operation.
Producer Adoption and Reactions
Since the establishment of the plots, producers in the area have become more interested in forage kochia. Several producers have contacted the project coordinator and the Extension Agent for more information. Items such as seeding, rates, costs, timing, and other areas have been discussed. Some of the producers want to watch the grant plots mature over the next few years before deciding what course of action to follow.
The original grant proposal included seeding by drilling and using a harrow and imprinter after the aerial planting. Because kochia seed is not normally available until mid December and ground conditions are not conducive to these type of planting techniques, these methods may not be practical methods of seeding. After experience with this demonstration plot, we would recommend that producers only consider aerial seeding unless they are in an area that receives very little snow in the early part of the winter.
At the USU Nephi Dryland Field day on July 27, 2007, a section on forage kochia research was discussed. During the field day, the details of the grant project were discussed. The field day was advertised locally by sending out flyers to county producers. It was also advertised in the county newspaper. USU also sent the field day flyer electronically to different agencies and individuals throughout the state.