Comparing Native Grass Species to Bahiagrass as a Forage Hay Crop

Project Overview

FS11-256
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2011: $9,982.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: Southern
State: Mississippi
Principal Investigator:

Annual Reports

Commodities

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

Practices

  • Animal Production: feed/forage, feed formulation, feed rations, range improvement, stockpiled forages, winter forage
  • Crop Production: continuous cropping, tissue analysis, terraces
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, budgets/cost and returns
  • Natural Resources/Environment: habitat enhancement, soil stabilization
  • Pest Management: chemical control, field monitoring/scouting, physical control, precision herbicide use
  • Production Systems: holistic management, permaculture
  • Soil Management: soil analysis, soil quality/health

    Summary:

    Native grass species Indiangrass and Little Bluestem were planted and compared with Bahiagrass for hay production. Native grasses are more drought resistant and require less fertilizer than commercial forages. Animal nutritional values are equal between both native and commercial forage grasses. Nutrient values and hay quantity were both measured during the three year period to determine if native grasses can be used as a better and more economical forage for hay production.

    Introduction

    The area planted in native grass was sprayed with Glyphosate to kill the existing stand of Bahiagrass. The native grasses were planted with a no-till drill in June 2011. Plateau was sprayed at planting. The Bahiagrass plot used in the demonstration was an existing stand adjacent to native grass. There was four acres each of the native grass and Bahiagrass used for the comparison. The demonstration area was sprayed to control weeds and the native grass had to be sprayed with metsulfuron to control Bahiagrass that had come back in 2013.

    The native grass and Bahiagrass was measured for tons / acre of standing forage, bales of hay harvested / acre, and nutrient values of both green forage and dry hay.

    Project objectives:

    The primary objective and performance targets was to find a better or a more economical alternative to commercial forage varieties such as Bahiagrass or Bermuda grass. Native grasses have proven their selves as a grazing forage and wildlife food source.

    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.