FARMER DID NOT CONDUCT GRANT PROJECT. GRANT CLOSED OUT AND FUNDS DEOBLIGATED, 3/16/18.
Small ruminant farming operations often struggle to source sufficient quantities of affordable and appropriate forage for their livestock. Replacing high priced alfalfa hay with high quality browse suitable for small ruminants contributes to feed efficiency, increased health and microbial resistance; reducing overall costs while promoting self-sufficiency on the farm and improving the quality of resulting farm products. Lespedeza cuneata (Sericea Lespedeza) is an increasingly popular pasture plant for small ruminants, however renovating pastureland through extensive cultivation, herbicide use, and bare-ground seeding can result in erosion, field ruts, loss of topsoil, and unwanted pesticide residues. These negative impacts can be compounded in the rocky terrain, sloped fields, and extensive waterways characteristic of central Virginia.
While previous SARE funded research has largely demonstrated that the establishment of Sericea lespedeza pasture offers benefits such as increasing grazing and microbial resistance, there has not been sufficient applied research focusing on comparative no-till approaches in lespedeza pasture establishment, providing farmers and ranchers with the practical data needed to decide between available no-till methods and budget for the corresponding input and labor costs, while planning for expected performance and yields over time.
This project will be focused on comparing two common no-till practices for establishing legumes withing a primarily grass-based pasture, thus improving pasture quality without compromising soil stability.
Project objectives from proposal:
Two sites with differing features would be equally divided to establish legume stands through seed drilling and frost or broadcast seeding at each location. The primary usefulness of this project would be in the extensive collection of data related to input costs, labor costs, grazing management during establishment, and effectiveness of establishment and yields over a two-year period.