Forage and Pasture Educational Program for Professionals in the Northwest

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2011: $71,058.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Grant Recipient: University of Idaho
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Glenn Shewmaker
University of Idaho

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: grass (misc. perennial), hay, general hay and forage crops


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, grazing management, grazing - multispecies, grazing - rotational, pasture renovation, pasture fertility, stocking rate, stockpiled forages, watering systems
  • Crop Production: irrigation, no-till, nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, extension, mentoring, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration
  • Pest Management: biological control, chemical control, cultural control
  • Production Systems: holistic management, transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    This proposal would expand the successful WSARE Professional Development Project EW05-12, and improve the knowledge and skills of professionals in sustainable livestock and forage production systems. A needs assessment survey identified needs for training in the proposed areas. Four to five workshops, one per region, will be presented in Prosser Washington, Kimberly Idaho, Bozeman Montana, Laramie Wyoming or Fort Collins Colorado, and Alaska if adequate budget and student numbers. The seminar/workshop will use extension, ARS, NRCS, forage seed industry, and integrate producer instructors. The detailed class syllabus and program developed with EW05-12 will be revised based on evaluations and experience with the workshops. Products will be: 1) updated syllabus, PowerPointTM presentations, outlines, reference material set; 2) an extension bulletin with recommendations for rotational grazing to optimize forage plant photosynthesis and production of several different pasture forage species; 3) time-lapse photography available as a presentation or video of defoliation response of forage species for use in workshops or websites; 4) video segments on DVD of modules of the workshops for folks unable to attend or for use in workshops. There are some existing local or state programs for educating and training producers, but no well organized or developed training for grass physiology in relation to grazing, plant materials available including legumes in mixes, fertilization, irrigation, and grazing management. It would be difficult for a single state to develop a viable program, but combining the resources and personnel from western universities and USDA can provide a viable professional training program in the West.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. 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 with a western perspective.
    2. Develop a Western SARE mentoring or support system for PNW 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.
    3. Collect data from producers practicing rotational grazing to demonstrate defoliation response and determine tiller dynamics in response to grazing. Record defoliation response by time-lapse photography for workshop demonstration and develop recommendations for a range of canopy heights of several different pasture forage species.
    4. Distribute the Pasture and Grazing Management in the Northwest (PNW614) book to pasture advisors and demonstrate how to use it to consult with grass farmers and livestock producers, 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.
    5. Demonstrate the proper use of pasture monitoring tools (the pasture stick and rising plate meter) and prediction equations we developed in Western SARE EW05-12 for extension, NRCS, and producers to evaluate production on PNW pastures.

    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.