Assessing pasture grasses, legumes and pasture blends for varying soil conditions in New England and Pennsylvania

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2007: $211,989.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:

Annual Reports


  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: general animal production

    Proposal abstract:

    Many farmers contact Extension and USDA-NRCS seeking information and recommendations on pasture species and varieties. This topic was mentioned often by farmers at meetings and monthly conference calls for the Pasture Research Center for New England and Eastern New York, and at Vermont Grass Farmers’ Association meetings. The Northeast Pasture Consortium reaffirmed this in 2006 as a research priority. Events such as Mass Aggie Seminars, the Vermont Grazing Conference, and pasture walks in several states have also requested information for varieties in varying soil/climatic conditions. Our hypotheses are (i) that with improved information on forage species and varieties interest and adoption of pasturing will increase because of economic benefit to farmers, and (ii) that this can be integrated into farm practices through a participatory project with farmers, complemented with outreach and education. All producers who pasture animals will benefit, and 15-20 dairy/ livestock farmers will participate directly and plant new species to counter increased costs in production of homegrown forages.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Objectives: i. Evaluate forage species/varieties for varying soil conditions/locations ii. On-farm evaluation and cost/benefit of adopting newly released new pasture varieties. A secondary goal of this project is to develop a network of uniform standardized grazed forage evaluation trials across New England that will be self sustaining through private producer or industry funds after three years. This grant will be invaluable in helping us develop credibility with producers and the forage seed industry, and in attracting private funding.

    Performance Target: Involve more than 50 pasture producers from New England and Pennsylvania in pasture forage evaluations at the UMass Research Farm, a Vermont (UVM) site, and USDA-ARS Pasture Systems and Watershed Mgt Res. Unit (PA). Over a two to three year period, variety plots will be mob stocked to determine yield and adaptability under grazing. Of these farmers, 15 or more will choose from more than 25 new pasture varieties and blends, and plant the chosen species/varieties in on-farm trials for local adaptability, make management changes, and increase reliance on pasture for livestock.

    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.