Season Extension Strategies and Profitability in Dairy and Livestock Operations in New England

Progress report for LNE20-399

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2020: $236,718.00
Projected End Date: 04/30/2023
Grant Recipients: University of Massachusetts Amherst; University of Maine; University of Vermont
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Masoud Hashemi
University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Project Information

Summary:

            In a changing climate, northeast farmers are experiencing milder/wetter winters and hotter/dryer summers, significantly impacting pasture productivity. Wet soils in spring may delay planting of long season annuals like corn while changes in summer conditions may intensify the summer slump of pastures. Grazing in New England is also limited in late fall. To avoid over-grazing, livestock producers heavily rely on labor-intensive and more expensive stored hay and/or purchased feed. These approaches can strain farm finances since livestock producers and dairy farmers operate on thin profit margins. Not surprisingly, we have found that producers throughout the region are highly interested in expanding the grazing season and other risk mitigating strategies.

            This project will investigate several novel extended grazing systems to increase forage inventory, farm profits, and climate adaptability. These strategies will provide research and education to help livestock farmers confidently increase yield, produce high-quality forage, and replace stored feeds.

            Our hypothesis is that the grazing season in New England can be extended/enhanced to increase forage inventory, reduced feed cost, and improved resilience to climate change conditions. This comprehensive project will build on our preliminary research to evaluate and assess practices that extend and enhance the grazing season and improve forage yield and quality. We will work to develop and fine-tune the following management practices:

 

1) Stockpiling: Investigating species composition and fertility management to provide high yielding/quality forage for late fall grazing.

 

2) No-till seedings into pastures: determine seeding rate, and nitrogen rates for supplementing existing pastures with winter rye or triticale to improve yield and quality of grazing in late fall and following spring.

 

3) Cool-season annuals – determine best combinations of brassicas, grasses, and other forbs to extend grazing into the fall while minimizing the impact of secondary compounds on livestock health.

 

4) Warm-season annuals – identify best combinations that maximize yield and nutrient efficiency during the summer slump.

 

            This project will implement a variety of educational methods to deliver comprehensive, practical information -to Northeast dairy and livestock operators. We will conduct replicated experiments at university research stations in MA, VT, and ME and work with regional farmers to install on-farm demonstrations. The results will be shared at annual meetings and field days. New adopters will be able to ask questions to collaborating farmers and researchers in person and remotely. Field days will be held at university research farms to display and transfer research results to the agricultural community. On-farm trials will compliment research trials and will integrate any farmer-specific treatments that arise. Lastly, development of online educational articles and videos will assist with distribution to the broader agricultural community.

            We will verify the performance target by surveying farmers about grazing practices at in-person meetings and over our list serves.

Performance Target:

            Forty dairy and livestock producers in New England will implement a new practice or strategy to extend the grazing season, resulting in dry matter forage yield increases of one ton per acre and improvements in relative feed value (RFV) compared to stored dry hay on at least 2000 acres.

Introduction:

In 2020, we began research activities on Stockpile, Small Grains into Pasture, and Fall Brassica experiments. We also produced educational content to inform regional farmers about our research projects, innovative grazing methods, and the importance of extending the grazing season. Despite the coronavirus pandemic we were able to begin establishing relationships with collaborating farmers.

Research

Hypothesis:

            Our hypothesis is that the grazing season in New England can be extended to increase forage inventory and reduce feed costs in changing climate conditions. This comprehensive project will evaluate and assess the following strategies of extending grazing season:

 

1) Stockpiling and its fertility management to improve forage yield and quality in late fall.

 

2) No-till winter rye planted into existing pasture for grazing in late fall and following spring.

 

3) Late fall grazing of brassicas and other cold-hardy forbs planted in late summer.

 

4) Growing warm-season grasses and forbs to compensate for reduced forage availability during summer slump.

Materials and methods:

            This project will consist of four experiments focusing on crops, which can be grown during either the hot dry summer or cool fall and spring when traditional grazing systems are relatively unproductive. All proposed grazing strategies will be evaluated independently for management flexibility and per-acre income in order to allow farmers to choose the strategy or strategies that fit their farm. The effect of these strategies on general soil health and nutrient cycling will also be measured.

 

Preliminary Research

 

            In response to interest from regional livestock producers two preliminary research on stockpile and brassicas species were conducted in 2018 and repeated in 2019 in MA. Several studies on forage brassicas and summer forage annuals from 2017-2019 also have been conducted in VT. In MA stockpile trial, tall fescue and orchardgrass plots were mixed with no legume, alfalfa, and red clover. In second year (2019), some grass-only plots were fertilized with urea in either early or late August. Biomass production will be determined in late fall/early winter 2019 to observe changes in treatment performance during pasture establishment and in preparation for future season stockpile analysis in terms of forage quality and yield.

            In MA, a wide spectrum of fall brassicas and other forbs were planted in Mid-September 2019 to test for initial suitability as fall grazing forages. This preliminary trial is mainly focused on assessing weed suppression, recommended seeding rates, growth habit, cold tolerance, and yield. This initial experiment will allow us to fine-tune the species and variety selection for trials in the fall of 2020 and 2021.

 

2020 overview

The COVID-19 pandemic caused many delays in our research plan. Research activities in all three states (MA, ME, VT) were significantly disrupted by research station closures and social distancing. The summer annual experiment was delayed until 2021 at all locations and the small grains into pastures experiment was postponed in Maine and Vermont.

Despite logistical complexities, much of our research was completed as planned. Stockpile experiment pastures were established in Vermont and Massachusetts, small grains were planted into pastures in Massachusetts, and the fall brassica experiment was planted in Vermont and Massachusetts. Unfortunately, dry weather in Massachusetts hampered brassica emergence and the Massachusetts location harvest was not used in 2020. The brassica experiment in Vermont was harvested as planned.

2021 overview

Research activities were performed in all three states with relatively few issues (although outreach activities were still more difficult due to continuing COVID restrictions and procedures. The first harvest of the stockpile experiment was completed in VT and MA. The first year of the small grains into pasture experiment was harvested in MA and the experiment was planted in all three stats for the winter of 2021-2022. The second year of the fall brassica experiment was conducted in VT and the first year in MA. The summer annual experiment was done in all three states. Sample processing and forage quality analysis is ongoing. Field data sets are included below but these have not been analyzed to draw statistical results.

 

Experimental Concepts and Design

 

Experiment 1: Stockpiling

Established pastures comprised of tall fescue and orchardgrass as monocrops and mixed, will be evaluated for yield and quality. To improve the quality of stockpile grasses and possibly reduce nitrogen application, we will integrate red clover and alfalfa along with no supplemental nitrogen, or application of nitrogen in either early August or late August. No nitrogen plots will be used as control. We will simulate grazing by harvesting forages in late October. Forage yield and quality indices will be measured. The plots will be arranged in a randomized complete block design (RCBD) with 13 treatments and four replications. Plots will be 10' x 25'. (MA, VT)

Stockpile Experiment 2020

Pasture plots as described about were planted in Massachusetts and Vermont.

In Vermont, on 29-Apr plots were planted with perennial forage species mixtures in a complete randomized block design with five replicates. Plots were 5’ x 20’ and consisted of tall fescue and orchardgrass planted alone and mixed with alfalfa and red clover. During the growing season, the plots were mowed to control weeds and support establishment of the desired species, however, no data were collected during this establishment phase. In the fall of 2021, additional N fertility treatments will be imposed on the plots. Data including yield and quality will be collected in 2021. The varieties used were KF Enhancer II alfalfa, Kora fescue, Juliet red clover, and Echelon orchardgrass.

Stockpile layout in VT: Vermont Stockpiling Experiment Seeding Vermont Stockpiling randomization

In Massachusetts, on 10/29/20 plots were planted with perennial forage species mixtures in a complete randomized block design with four replicates. Plots were 6' x 25' and consisted of tall fescue and orchardgrass planted alone and mixed with alfalfa and red clover. Data collection will begin in 2021. Planting was done with a Brillion cone seeder. Layout and seeding rates are attached. The varieties used were Foregrazer alfalfa, Barolex fescue, Marathon red clover, and Echelon orchardgrass.

Stockpile layout in MA: MA 2020 stockpile seeding rates and layout

Stockpile Experiment 2021

In Vermont on 6-Aug and 27-Aug 2021 early and late nitrogen fertilizer treatments were imposed on the plots established in 2020. Plots were harvested on 9-Nov 2021 and subsamples collected for dry matter content determination and quality analyses.

Stockpile 2021 layout in VT: 2021 Forage Stockpiling Map

In Massachusetts, early and late fertilization of the stockpile occurred on August 4th and Sept. 2nd 2021 on the plots established in 2020. Fertilization rates were 50#/A in the form of urea at 204 g per 180 square foot plot. All plots were mowed at the beginning of August before fertilization. 1/4 square meter quadrats were harvested from each plot on Nov. 2 and Nov. 11. Frost was very late in MA this year and didn't happen until Nov. 3. The two sampling dates were taken in order to explore the effect of frost on the forage quality of the stockpile. Samples will be used to assess forage quality. There was alfalfa in the experiment in the spring but by the fall all of the alfalfa had died. clover content of the plots was quite variable with some plots without treatment clover having clover as a weed and some plots which had clover planted showing very poor stands. Before fertilizing the experiment following the treatments, the entire experiment received composted cow manure on June 3 and urea on June 16 to provide nitrogen and other nutrients during establishment. each pot received 40# of composted manure and 100 g urea per 180 square feet for a total of 83#/A nitrogen.

Stockpile 2021 yield data in MA: MA 2021 yield and clover presence

An on-farm stockpile demonstration was conducted at Antes Farm in Conway MA. Two sets of plots were set aside. Each set of plots had one plot which received manure and one which did not. 1/4 square meter samples were taken from all four plots on 10/28/2021. The stockpile at Antes farm was primarily orchardgrass with some reed canary grass.

Stockpile on-farm demonstration data: 2021 antes farm results

 

Experiment 2: Small grains into pastures

Winter rye will be no-till drilled into established pastures in August. The winter rye will be harvested in late October and early spring and evaluated for yield and quality. Management treatments will include seeding date, fertility management, and harvest date. The experiment will be set up as a RCBD with four replications of 20 treatments. Plots will be 6' x 15'. Annual winter rye will be planted at four times (no rye (control), Early August, Late August, and Early September) at the rate of 120 lbs/ac, combined with three nitrogen fertilizer rates (0, 50, and 100 lbs N/acre). Each plot will be split into two harvesting times, one in late October/early November and the other in spring (April). In ME and VT, collaborating farmers will establish at least one to two treatments of their choice and they will evaluate production. In MA and VT, small plot trials with all treatments will be established at research farms. (MA, ME, VT)

Small grains into pastures 2020

In Massachusetts, on 9/25/20 plots were planted with 50/50 mix of Aroostook rye and Fridge triticale at 0, 60, 120 pounds per acre into established pastures. An extra seeding rate treatment (240#/A) was accidentally planted as well. On 9/27, half of the plots received 40 pounds per acre nitrogen in the form of bloodmeal while the others received no nitrogen. 6' x 25' plots were arranged in a randomized complete block design with four replications. Planting was done with a Great Plains no-till seeder. Harvest for yield and forage quality will be collected in the spring of 2021. Layout is attached.

Small grains into pasture layout in MA 2020-2021: small grains into pasture 2020 layout

This experiment was postponed until 2021 in Maine and Vermont due to coronavirus logistical difficulties and dry weather.

Small grains into pasture 2021

In MA, the Aroostook rye and Fridge triticale planted in 2020 was harvested on May 7 2021. The small grains were at heading stage. The grains were between 1 and 3 feet tall. There was a lot of variability in the experimental area with the southwest corner having generally more growth than the northeast. The number of stems per yard was measured in each plot and 75 square feet of each plot was harvested and dried to find biomass yield. samples were saved for forage quality analysis.

Small grains into pasture 2021 yield data in MA: MA small grains into pasture 2021 yields

The same treatments as in 2020 were planted in MA on Sept. 15 and fertilized on Oct. 6 2021 in a location nearby the 2020 planting at the UMass South Deerfield research farm. Pasture was cut to approximately 2 inches before planting. Layout attached.

Small grains into pasture layout in MA 2021-2022: MA small grains into pasture 2021-2022 layout

An on-farm demonstration of planting small grains into existing pastures was also conducted at Antes Farm in Conway MA. Laker oats, fridge triticale, and aroostook rye were planted separately with a Great Plains no-till drill with 6" between rows. Seeds were planted at 100#/A. Some of each planting got 50# N/A as urea and some were unfertilized. Triticale did not grow well but samples of pasture with and without oats or rye and with and without nitrogen were collected on 10/28/21.

Small grains into pasture on-farm demonstration data 2021: 2021 antes farm results

In Vermont on 22-Jun 2021 summer annual species were interseeded into established plots of perennial grasses and legumes. Plots were approximately 5’ x 35’ in size and consisted of orchardgrass, Kentucky bluegrass, meadow fescue, red clover, birdsfoot trefoil, and white clover. Each of these perennial species were interseeded with annual ryegrass, Japanese millet, sudangrass, and sunn hemp in a randomized block design. On 23-Aug 2021 plots were assessed for establishment of annuals by counting the number of annual species present within a 81in2 quadrat three times within each plot. The exceptionally dry conditions throughout the season prevented essentially any of the annual species from establishing except for in a few bordering areas where little to no perennial vegetation was present. Following this trial, plots were interseeded again with winter rye (grass plots) or winter triticale (legume plots) on 2-Sep 2021 at 60 or 120 lbs ac-1. Some plots were also left not interseeded as controls. On the same day as planting, fertilizer treatments of either 0 or 40 lbs ac-1 nitrogen via urea (46-0-0) were applied in a randomized block design. In the spring of 2022 these plots will be assessed for winter grain establishment.

Summer small grains into pasture layout and data in VT 2021: 2021 Interseed summer annuals MAP

Winter small grains into pasture layout in VT 2021-2022: 2021 Interseed winter grains MAP

In Maine, two demonstration plots of winter rye (c.v. Hazlet) were no-till drilled into established pastures on commercial farms.  Planting rate was 110 lbs/acre, and the sites were planted on 7-Sept 2021 (northern) and 12-Sept 2021 (southern).  The majority of both sites had well-established perennial forages that were cut short at planting time.  The northern site had one area with little established vegetation, due to previous cropping.  These plots will be evaluated in spring, 2022. 

 

Experiment 3: Fall brassicas

Fall brassicas and other cool-season forbs such as chard, forage beets will be planted as monoculture and mixed with grasses in August for late fall harvest. They will be evaluated for yield and quality. Particular attention will be payed to glucosinulate content in brassica forages and their usefulness in lactating animals as well as management concerns such as weed growth and frost tolerance. The plots will be arranged as a randomized complete block design with four replications. Plots are 4' x 10' and forage species will be planted on late August. Brassicas and the mixed forage will be harvested and evaluated for their yield, quality and glucosinulate assessment in late October or early November, depending on weather conditions (MA, VT).

Fall Brassicas 2020

In Vermont, on 20-Aug plots were planted with six forage brassica varieties planted alone and in combination with an oat/pea mixture at three additional rates. Plots were harvested on 15-Oct with a Carter plot forage harvester equipped with scales. Yields were recorded and an approximate 1 lb. subsample collected and dried for dry matter content determination. The dried samples will be ground to 1mm particle size and analyzed for forage quality using NIR procedures at the UVM Cereal Grain Testing Laboratory (Burlington, Vermont). In addition, root and shoot biomass from three plants in each of the six brassica-only treatment plots in three of the replicates were collected, dried, and sent to UMass for nutrient and glucosinolate content analyses. This experiment will be repeated at this location in 2021. The varieties used were Everleaf oats, 4010 peas, and Appin, Barkant, Barsica, T-Raptor, Pacific Gold, and Ground Hog brassicas. Layout is attached.

Fall brassicas layout from VT 2020: Vermont 2020 SARE Cool Season Annuals Map

In Massachusetts, fall brassica experiment was planted on 8/21/20 but brassica emergence was so poor that the experiment was not harvested. This was likely due to very dry weather. The experiment will be redone in 2021. Layout and seeding rates are attached.

Fall brassica layout from MA 2020: MA Brassica Layout 2020

Fall Brassicas 2021

In Vermont on 23-Aug 2021 plots were planted with six forage brassica varieties planted alone and in combination with an oat/pea mixture at three additional rates. Plots were harvested on 3-Nov 2021 with a Carter plot forage harvester equipped with scales. Yields were recorded and an approximate 1 lb. subsample collected and dried for dry matter content determination. The dried samples will be ground and analyzed for forage quality via NIR procedures.

Fall brassicas layout from VT 2021: 2021 SARE Cool Season Forages Map

In MA, the brassica experiment was planted on 8/18 using a brillion cone seeder. There was substantial rain following planting and good emergence. All plots received 50#N/A as calcium ammonium nitrate (343 g CAN/ plot). 1/4 sq m quadrats were harvested on 10/18 and 10/20 2021. The samples were separated into oats, peas, and brassicas. All brassicas were in vegetative growth except for pacific gold which was flowering. This harvest was conducted before frost. samples of each species were ground for forage quality analysis. Samples of each species were also collected after frost (11/10) to assess how frost affects the forage quality of each species but these samples were not based on a specific area and didn't assess yield.

Fall brassica layout and field data from MA 2021: Brassica Layout and yield 2021

 

Experiment 4: Summer annuals

Mixed summer annuals, including grasses, legumes, and forbs will be grown to compensate the summer slump. The forage crops will be grown as mixes of differing levels of diversity from monocrop to many species mixtures. Forage composition will be tracked at first and second harvest to assess the rate of growth and species' response to grazing and other management practices. Harvested forage will be evaluated for yield and quality. The experiment will be laid out as RCBD with plots 4' x 20 ' (MA, VT, ME).

Summer Annuals 2020

This experiment was postponed in all locations until 2021 due to research station closures from COVID-19 pandemic.

Summer Annuals 2021

In Maine, summer annuals were no-till drilled into an established grass field on 21-June, 2021 using a Great Plains drill.  These treatments were sorghum-sudangrass (rates); Japanese millet (30 lbs/A and 15 lbs/A); purpletop turnip (6 and 3 lbs/A); an overseeding mix of DH-3 annual rye (78%), Medium red clover (6.5%), Purple top turnip (5%), Eco-till radish (5%) (15 lbs/A); and an unplanted check.  Experimental units were 6’ wide and 25’ long and arranged in a randomized complete block design with four replications.  Urea fertilizer was broadcast at planting (50 lbs N/A).   At time of planting, the plot was very dry, due to local drought conditions.  Samples were collected on 23-Sept, separated into planted annuals and existing vegetation, and dried.

In Vermont on 2-Jun 2021 two summer annual grass species (sudangrass and pearl millet) were seeded in combination with two legumes (red clover and crimson clover) at varying mixture ratios (0, 25, 50, 75, and 100%) The plots were fertilized with 100#/acre urea (46-0-0) on 24-Jun 2021. Prior to harvest, heights were measured in three random locations in each plot for each species present in the treatment. On 22-Jul 2021 plots were harvested by cutting the material growing within a 0.25m2 quadrat in each plot at a height of approximately 5 inches. The material was then sorted by summer annual species and weeds. Biomass of each fraction was recorded and a representative composite sample of each species was taken for dry matter content determination. The summer annual species were then recombined and dried to be analyzed for forage quality via NIR procedures. The same methods for height and biomass determination were followed for the second harvest on 24-Aug 2021.

Summer annuals layout in VT 2021: SARE Summer Annual Mixtures Map

Summer annuals field data from VT 2021: 2021 SARE Summer Annuals all data

In MA, the summer annual experiment was planted on 6/2/2021 using a brillion cone seeder. plots were 6 x 20 feet. Plots were meant to be fertilized with 50#/A nitrogen in the form of calcium ammonium nitrate. 3 sq ft sections of the plots were harvested regularly during the season (7/1, 7/13-14, 7/21-22, 7/29, 8/10-12, 9/2). Samples from 7/1, 7/13-14, 7/29, and 8/10-12 were harvested at ground level to track the relative growth of the legumes and grasses during growth. Samples from 7/13-14 and 9/2 were cut from the same section 5 inches above the ground to simulate harvesting or grazing height and forage regrowth in the 9/2 sampling date. For these two samplings, weed biomass was also measured and samples of all forage species were ground for forage quality analysis. Pearl millet, sudangrass, and weeds were also collected from unused plots and made into 1 quart mini-silos after being chopped to 1/2 inch pieces using an Ohio corn chopper. The silage was in 5 treatments, 1) sudangrass, 2) pearl millet, 3) weeds, 4) half and half sudangrass and weeds, and 5) half and half pearl millet and weeds. The field was very weedy. The weeds in June and early July were primarily lambsquarts, purselane, galinsoga, and some grasses with small amounts of other species. In late July and August, the weeds were lambsquarters, pigweed, galinsoga, and fall panicum. All of the broadleaf weeds were flowering at the time of silage making.

Summer annuals layout and field data from MA 2021: 2021 summer annual layout and treatments

 

Forage Analysis

            Harvested forage in all four experiments will be evaluated for NDF (Neutral Detergent Fiber), ADF (Acid Detergent Fiber), crude protein, mineral nutrients, energy content, and RFV (Relative Feed Value) at PI lab in MA and/or an independent laboratory. High-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) will be used to measure glucosinolates in brassica forages.

Forage Analysis 2020

Lab work has not been completed on any samples.

Forage Analysis 2021

Lab work is in progress for many samples but there are no results to include yet.

Research results and discussion:

Field data are found next to the research activities described in the materials and methods section since many of the documents contain both methodological information and data. Forage quality and data analyses are ongoing but there are only a few preliminary results from the 2021 harvests so far. Compiled field data are also included here for ease of reference. 

 

Small grains into pasture field data from MA 2021: MA small grains into pasture 2021 yields.

In 2021, the small grains into pastures experiment in MA had higher forage yields for the pastures with small grains and nitrogen than for either pastures with just small grains without nitrogen or just nitrogen.

Stockpile field data from MA 2021: MA 2021 stockpile yield and clover presence.

The stockpile experiment in 2021 had the highest forage yields in plots fertilizer in late august compared with to other nitrogen treatments or the unfertilized control. Orchardgrass yields were higher than fescue with orchardgrass/fescue mixtures intermediate.

Descriptive charts showing these very preliminary results from both the small grains into pasture and stockpile experiments in MA were presented at an on-farm field day in the fall of 2021.

For other experiments, results haven't been analyzed yet so only raw data sets are included here:

Fall brassica field data from MA 2021: MA Brassica Layout and yield 2021

Summer annual field data from MA 2021: 2021 MA summer annual yield data

On-farm demonstration field data in MA 2021: 2021 MA antes farm results

 

Summer annual field data from VT 2021: 2021 SARE VT Summer Annuals all data

 

 

Participation Summary
3 Farmers participating in research

Education

Educational approach:

2020

In person field days and meeting were not possible in 2020 due to COVID-19. Instead over 2020, a series of 6 monthly webinars was produced by all three states to educate regional farmers about a variety of techniques for extending the grazing season. This series covered all of our research topics as well as several other grazing extension strategies. The webinars were delivered live and are now hosted on YouTube as well as university websites. 315 people attended the webinars live and 250 views on YouTube. Vermont held a virtual field day on 7-Aug in which research results and information related to perennial and annual forage production were shared with 40 attendees. A presentation of research results was recorded and posted to YouTube. Since the live event the recording has been accessed 75 times. Additionally, Massachusetts communicated with our 1,070 Crop Dairy Livestock and Equine newsletter subscribers about grazing extension and the research project.

2021

In Vermont a field day was held on 22-Oct 2021 focused on cover crops and forages. 112 people attended this event at which information and very preliminary results from these projects were shared.

In Massachusetts, an in-person field day at the UMass South Deerfield Farm was held on July 27 2021 including presentations on stockpiling and summer annuals. It was attended by 86 people. On Nov. 9 2021 an on-farm field workshop attended by 11 people was held at Antes Farm in Conway MA covering planting small grains into pasture and stockpiling. Very preliminary results from small grains into pasture experiment and stockpile experiment were presented in a short flyer.

Milestones

Milestone #1 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

320 livestock producers across six New England states learn about grazing extension strategies at spring meetings and receive a survey to determine current practices and constraints.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
320
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
565
Proposed Completion Date:
May 31, 2020
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

Spring field days were not possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic and instead the three participating states jointly produced a series of six, monthly webinars on extending the grazing season. These webinars were viewed by 565 people in 2020 and continue to be available online. The survey that we had planned to distribute at spring meetings in 2020 was delayed. Surveys were distributed at summer field days in 2021 to more than 200 farmers and many showed interest in multiple extended grazing systems. Additional surveys will be distributed electronically in the spring of 2022.

Milestone #2 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

250 farmers return the survey; 200 farmers provide contact information for further involvement in the project. 6 farmers, two in each state, plant at least one on-farm demonstration in collaboration with the project team.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
250
Proposed Completion Date:
August 31, 2020
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

Our planned survey was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This surveying was started in the summer of 2021 with the distribution of surveys to more than 200 farmers and the identification of farmer collaborators. Additional surveying will be done in the spring of 2022 to insure we are reaching as many interested farmers as possible.

Milestone #3 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

180 farmers attend at least one field day that explains the project performance target, the known benefits of extended grazing, ongoing research in strategies for extending grazing into the summer slump, and on-farm trials.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
180
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
313
Proposed Completion Date:
November 30, 2020
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
October 22, 2021
Accomplishments:

Our planned field days in 2020 were cancelled due to the pandemic. Vermont held a virtual field day on August seventh which included information about this research and has been viewed 115 times. Other field days were rescheduled for 2021 to coincide with the delayed research activities. If in-person field days are not possible in 2021, these will also be virtual field days.

In 2021, in-person field days were held in both Vermont and Massachusetts with 112 attendees in Vermont and 86 in Massachusetts.

Milestone #4 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

200 farmers attend a spring workshop or field day in each of three states and learn about post-frost and early spring grazing extension, species selection, forage quality, and management timing. Preliminary results from research trials will be delivered to farmers and collaborators.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
300
Proposed Completion Date:
October 31, 2021
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

Spring field days have not been possible due to the pandemic. With preliminary results coming in we will begin communicating our results at field days in 2022.

Milestone #5 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

6 farmers, two in each state, plant at least one on-farm demonstration in collaboration with project team.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
6
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
4
Proposed Completion Date:
September 1, 2021
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

In Maine, two demonstration plots of winter rye (c.v. Hazlet) were no-till drilled into established pastures on commercial farms.  Planting rate was 110 lbs/acre, and the sites were planted on 7-Sept 2021 (northern) and 12-Sept 2021 (southern).  The majority of both sites had well-established perennial forages that were cut short at planting time.  The northern site had one area with little established vegetation, due to previous cropping.  These plots will be evaluated in spring, 2022. 

On-farm demonstrations of both stockpiling, and small grains into pastures were conducted at Antes Farm in Massachusetts in 2021. The small grains into pasture will also be evaluated in the spring of 2022. Another demonstration will be done at Bar-Way Farm in Deerfield MA in 2022 but the exact forage system hasn't been decided on.

Milestone #6 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

50 farmers consult about grazing extension including information on species selection, fertility management, management schedule, and type of livestock with project team by phone and email.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
50
Proposed Completion Date:
March 31, 2023
Status:
In Progress
Milestone #7 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Extension articles and videos will be produced and distributed online and at the field days and training workshops.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
900
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
1750
Proposed Completion Date:
March 31, 2023
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
December 31, 2021
Accomplishments:

An extension article on extended grazing was produced for the UMass Crop Dairy Livestock and Equine program discussing grazing extension strategies and their purpose in the Northeast. Our webinar series and UVM's virtual field day videos are available online on university websites and YouTube.

Milestone #8 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

40 farmers will document acres used for grazing season extension, forage yield, and stocking rate by completing and submitting verification information to project staff.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
40
Proposed Completion Date:
March 31, 2023
Status:
In Progress
Milestone #9 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

2500 livestock producers in six states of New England and upstate New York learn about grazing extension strategies through direct mailings.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
2500
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
1070
Proposed Completion Date:
April 30, 2023
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

The extension article for UMass CDLE extension was mailed to 1070 subscribers.

Performance Target Outcomes

Target #1

Target: number of farmers:
40
Target: change/adoption:

Forty dairy and livestock operations in New England will implement one or more proposed strategies to extending grazing season on at least 2000 acres. This will increase and diversify forage inventory during summer slump, late fall/early winter, and early spring on their farms.

Target: amount of production affected:

2000 acres.

Target: quantified benefit(s):

These strategies will allow farmers to grow an additional $500,000 of forages annually (2,000 acres x $250/acre) while enhancing environmental sustainability and resiliency. Assessed through survey.

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.