Forage and Pasture Educational Program for Extension, FSA, and NRCS in the Pacific Northwest

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2005: $90,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Western
State: Idaho
Principal Investigator:
Glenn Shewmaker
University of Idaho

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: oats, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Animals: bovine, goats, sheep
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: grazing - continuous, grazing - multispecies, pasture fertility, pasture renovation, grazing - rotational, stockpiled forages, winter forage, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers, conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, networking, on-farm/ranch research
  • Natural Resources/Environment: soil stabilization
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management
  • Soil Management: organic matter


    We developed and provided education and training in support of improved pasture and grazing management. The target audience was Cooperative Extension educators; Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Conservation Districts personnel; Farm Service Agency (FSA) employees; and other USDA, state, and local personnel. These people are now better prepared to extend the knowledge to pasture operators through local workshops, tours, and farm visits. We have provided training materials and a program for grass physiology in relation to grazing, plant materials available including legumes in mixes, fertilization, irrigation, and grazing management. The training materials including course syllabus, outlines, reference material, and Powerpoint (TM) presentations are now available. Summarization of forage prediction data was completed in a Master of Science Thesis by Laura Hooper. The production of a Pasture and Grazing Management Guide was completed in 2009 and printed books will be available in early 2010.

    Project objectives:

    • Develop curricula to educate and train extension, NRCS, Conservation Districts, FSA, and other USDA and state personnel about forage physiology, plant growth and development, plant-animal relations, and management of integrated pasture-livestock systems.

      Improve extension and USDA personnel understanding and implementation of the principles of management intensive grazing featuring multi-day workshops conducted on demonstration ranches; hands-on workshops on cooperator’s operations; the development of extension bulletins; peer reviewed publications; and the development of a grazing manual for irrigated pasture with a western perspective.

      Develop a mentoring or support system for Pacific Northwest educators and graziers trying to implement sustainable grazing practices on irrigated pasture through the use of a list server, newsletter, and/or other appropriate communication technology.

      Collect data and develop reliable prediction equations to publish estimates of forage biomass for a range of canopy heights of several different forages. Develop a pasture stick for extension, NRCS, and producers to evaluate production on PNW pastures.

      Develop a pasture monitoring guide and score sheet, similar to the one developed by NRCS in Missouri, to facilitate practical forecasting and budgeting of forage production and to encourage the sustainable practices of grazing and pasture management. Emphasis will be placed on the benefits of plant diversity, ecosystem processes to the economics of a sustainable system and environmental and wildlife benefits from active goal-setting, monitoring, and management.

    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.