Sericea lespedeza, Lespedeza cuneata, is a non-native perennial warm-season legume that is known to be invasive and negatively impacts native plant species in pastures by reducing biomass of desirable forage crops. This project, “Managing sericea lespedeza infestation in native warm season grass pastures using goats” will evaluate the effects of utilizing goats at various stocking rates to control, minimize, or eliminate sericea lespedeza in established native warm season grass pastures. Thus, the main objective will be to determine how goat stocking rate in a rotational grazing system affects plant community composition in a native warm season grass dominated pasture infested with sericea lespedeza.
The experiment will consist of 3 replicated treatments of high, medium and low stocking rates. Each stocking rate will be imposed on a grazing unit, divided into rotational paddocks. Each replicated grazing unit will consist of a native warm season grass base (Big Bluestem, Indian grass) and sericea lespedeza. Plant community composition, forage nutritive value, and condensed tannins will be measured before and after each grazing event or rotation. Animals will be assessed for body weight and body condition score prior to, and upon completion of the grazing period. An ACUC protocol is currently under development and will be approved prior to beginning the study.
Sources of outreach and output will be available to a broad range of farmers and ranchers to ensure opportunities of engagement throughout each grazing season. These will be in the forms of field days, workshops, bulletins, video blogs, symposiums, conferences, newsletters, and publications. We will provide a multitude of opportunities to transfer knowledge and technology to our stakeholders.
There are Four main outcomes of this project that directly relate to farmers and ranchers. First, they will be able to determine the goat stocking rate that is the most effective for controlling sericea lespedeza. Second, they will become more aware of native plant species and the problems that arise from infestations of sericea lespedeza. This will encourage better management of current resources. Third, by using goats as a management strategy to reduce stands of sericea lespedeza, farmers will decrease use of herbicides. Fourth, including sericea lespedeza in the diet will control gastrointestinal parasites in goats without using anthelmintic drugs.
Project objectives from proposal:
The goals for this project are to provide farmers and ranchers:
- The stocking rate that is best suited to control sericea lespedeza in a managed rotational grazing system.
- Knowledge of native plant species and the problems that arise from infestations of sericea lespedeza.
- The option of grazing goats as a management strategy to reduce stands of sericea lespedeza without additional cost of herbicides.
- A means of using sericea lespedeza in the goat diet to control gastrointestinal parasites without using anthelmintic drugs.