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

    Proposal abstract:

    Justification: There is an immediate opportunity to develop and provide education and training in support of improved pasture and grazing management. The target audience is cooperative extension educators, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) personnel, and Farm Service Agency (FSA) employees, and other USDA, state, and local personnel in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). These people can then extend the knowledge and skills to pasture operators through local workshops, tours, and farm visits.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objectives: 1) Develop curricula to educate and train extension and other USDA personnel about forage physiology, plant growth and development, plant-animal relations, and management of integrated pasture-livestock systems; 2) 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 cooperators operations; the development of extension bulletins; peer reviewed publications, and the development of a PNW Pasture Management Handbook with a western perspective; 3) 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; 4) 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; 5) 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.
    Outputs: We expect 80 Extension educators, FSA, and NRCS personnel will be trained to extend the knowledge to producers. At a minimum we will hold 3 Pasture Intensive Training Seminars tentatively in 1) the Columbia Basin, 2) eastern Oregon-Western Idaho, and 3) Eastern Idaho-northern Utah areas. Location will balance travel distance of instructors, attendance of professionals, and time restraints. The seminars will be the first phase of the training and will emphasize the science and basics of plant, soil, and animal sciences as applied to pastures and grazing management.
    The second phase of the training will focus on applying the principles of sustainable grazing and pasture management. The Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension and Education Center near Salmon, Idaho, is one site at which the principles can be demonstrated. The University of Idaho’s Lost Rivers Grazing Academy is an established semi-annual 4-day workshop. The academy is a 40-hour, hands-on workshop, where operators learn about MiG principles and then apply grazing principles with real cattle and grass. The academy has ½ of the time allocated to instruction and discussion of principles of forage and grazing management and the other half of the time provides the students hands-on experience in determining forage resources, and allocation of the forage to meet various objectives in livestock and pasture production. The Academy contracts with Jim Gerrish, formerly of the University of Missouri, for his expert MiG training and is conveniently held at the Cummings Center.
    Products will be 1) a curriculum, syllabus, and presentation materials for the Intensive Pasture Seminars; 2) a pasture stick with accompanying forage production guide; 3) a pasture monitoring form and guide; 4) a forage budgeting form and guide; and 5) publication of a PNW Pasture and Grazing Management Handbook.
    Evaluation: Success of the seminars and grazing academy will be evaluated by requiring participants to take pre- and post-tests, and through documentation of number of producers that adopt principles and practices that were presented in this project. The quality of the PNW Pasture and Grazing Handbook will be evaluated by the peer and external reviews and the editor.

    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.