Development of a Plan for Implementing a Low-input Sustainable Forage Production System in the Oklahoma-Arkansas Ozark Highland Region and Similar Land Areas
The initial proposal requested funding for the development of a plan to implement a comprehensive, intensive, low input sustainable forage management program with initial emphasis in a nine-county area of the Arkansas Ozark Mountains. As the project progressed, input was received from a very diverse group of people involved in grassland agriculture. These people represented farmers, agricultural businesses, agricultural agencies, organizations, local political leaders and many others. It became very apparent that there was a tremendous opportunity to have a dramatic effect on grassland resource and to improve the local economy.
The sponsors have held a series of meetings, workshops, and field days in an effort to really find out what the problems were that the farmers faced. The sponsors also sent out questionnaires seeking local input. From all the input, it became clear as to what the basic problem was which kept this area from getting the most out of the grassland resource. The average livestock producers in this area are simply not utilizing the abundance of information and expertise available to them. They are not using simple management practices that have been proven through years and years of use in this area, as well as, throughout the world.
What the sponsors found is that far too many livestock producers were not using very simple grassland management practices in their operations; practices such as, rotational grazing, use of fire for weed and brush control, low cost electric fencing for cross fencing and use of native grasses and other adapted introduced forage species. It was found that there were several reasons why the grassland management level is low. One reason is that the majority of the producers work at other jobs and don't have time to assess the existing agri agencies that have expertise in grassland management. Therefore, many have no basic knowledge of the management principles. Also, some producers concentrate on some very intense management while letting the simple practices listed above slip by. Some producers do very well in their fertilization programs but do not have the ability to properly graze their grassland.
To disseminate the findings of project, the sponsors have held a series of workshops for farmers and ranchers. The major efforts were annual workshops and printed material from the workshops. Below is a list of the workshops and dates they were held:
DATE LOCATION FARMER ATTENDANCE
March 1989 Salem, AR 176
March 1989 Marshall, AR 77
March 1990 Mt. Home, AR 65
March 1990 Salem, AR 180
March 1991 Salem, AR 210
March 1991 Mt. Home, AR 156
March 1992 Salem, AR 250
At each of these workshops, a tour was also held to show in the field how grassland management practices are implemented. The proceedings for the workshops held in Salem were printed and copies distributed to many farmers in the nine-county project area.
(1) Establish a plan for implementing the project.
(2) Obtain the necessary funding.
(3) Set in place a mechanism for implementation.