High-tannin pasture plantings

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2014: $9,758.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2017
Grant Recipient: Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Region: Northeast
State: Maine
Project Leader:
Diane Schivera
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

Annual Reports

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, feed/forage, grazing management, herbal medicines, parasite control
  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Production Systems: integrated crop and livestock systems

    Proposal abstract:

    Plants high in condensed tannins have been shown in numerous studies to help reduce the population of Haemonchus Contortus.  These plants have been grown and used in the Southern United States for many years, but very little in the Northeast.  This project will evaluate the ability to grow Sericea lespezda and Big Trefoil Lotus uliginosus, also known as L. pedunculatus in the Northeast.  We will evaluate the plantings to see if they will survive Maine winters and be able to be grown as a perennial in pasture or whether they die and could only be used as an annual crop.   We will also graze these two species and evaluate how plants grown in the Northeast adapt to being grazed.  If the plants survive the management and the colder climate, sheep and goat farmers will gain a new very valuable tool.  This will be particularly significant because both of these plants are tolerant of heavy wet soils and low pH, so they would be a propitious choice for farmers less than optimum soils and with limited opportunities for soil improvement.   

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project will evaluate biomass production with .25 meter sq. plot sample harvesting. Dry Matter levels will determined by drying the samples in the microwave.  Using randomized complete block design, we will plant 10’x10’ plots of each species alone and each in combination with perennial rye.   The control plots will be red clover and perennial rye.  The Big trefoil will be seeded at 2 and 4 lbs/acre, lespedeza at 25 lbs/acre.  These plantings will be done at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education center.  At the cooperating farms, 1/2 acre strips of trefoil and lespedeza will be tilled and broadcast seeded at the 4 lb./acre and 25lbs./acre rate.   The farms will graze the strips for 1-3 days depending on the plant population.  These grazing will be on the same schedule as the manual harvests. Impact will be limited to avoid killing the crop. We will do the same plot harvest two times during the grazing season.  Harvests will be planned for July 15 and August 15, with some flexibility depending on the viability of the plantings.  On the second year the samples will be done on June 15th, July15th and August 15th.

    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.