Multi Disciplinary Training on Pasture-Based Dairy Systems - A Sustainable Alternative for the Region

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1998: $53,429.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $33,566.00
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Steven Washburn
North Carolina State University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: millet, rye, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: housing, feed formulation, feed rations, manure management, mineral supplements, pasture fertility, pasture renovation, grazing - rotational, stockpiled forages, watering systems, winter forage, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: agroforestry, double cropping, no-till, nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers, application rate management, tissue analysis
  • Education and Training: technical assistance, demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, study circle
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: riparian buffers
  • Pest Management: integrated pest management, weather monitoring
  • Production Systems: holistic management
  • Soil Management: earthworms, organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, urban/rural integration, analysis of personal/family life, social networks, sustainability measures


    Team building during a 1998 study tour of Irish pasture-based dairying included discussions on 13 farms and four teaching, extension, and research centers. Discussions centered on production, economics, environmental, and social aspects of pasture-based dairying. The 15 participants then planned training to enhance understanding of pasture-based dairying in the region. Training was held in SC, NC, and VA during summer of 1999 and 130 professionals from 15 states participated. Regional dairy grazing conferences (2000, 2002) were also supported along with other educational events. As a result, several producers have started, improved, or increased use of pasture on their dairy farms.

    Project objectives:

    The objective of this program is to provide the impetus for the adoption of pasture-based dairy farming in the Mid-Atlantic region. To accomplish this there are three components:

    Knowledge will be gained about pasture based dairying practices at research stations and
    on dairy farms in Ireland and this knowledge will be adapted and implemented on farms
    in the Mid-Atlantic region. Extension educators, other professionals and farmers
    will learn new ideas and practices which can have positive impacts on work and quality
    of life for dairy farm families in the Southeast.

    Attitudes among agricultural professionals about the possibilities of pasture-based
    dairying will be changed. Participating professionals and farmers from the Mid-Atlantic
    region will be trained and will offer educational programs to provide information and
    support the adoption of sustainable pasture-based dairy production systems.

    Innovative farmers and advisors will meet on a regular basis to discuss sustainable
    alternative dairy management practices and solve problems.

    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.