Sustainable Pasture Management in Texas: Optimizing forage production and nutrient use in various environments and soils

Project Overview

Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2019: $14,298.00
Projected End Date: 03/14/2021
Grant Recipient: USDA-ARS
Region: Southern
State: Texas
Principal Investigator:


  • Agronomic: grass (misc. perennial)


  • Animal Production: feed/forage


    Updated abstract:


    Eastern gamagrass is a valuable productive native grass that originally ranged over large areas of the eastern and southern United States. It is highly palatable and produces high quality forage and high yields on marginal land subject to excess moisture. Due to overgrazing this grass has become significantly less abundant and thus becoming a study of interest.

    In 2019, we observed and took measurements of five ecotypes from different locations in Texas and Oklahoma and that were growing in Temple, TX. We input our recorded measurements of each ecotype for crop parameters in the ALMANAC model. We simulated yield for each ecotype using data on rainfall, temperature and soil type of each county of interest. The parametrized model will be useful for determining which ecotype has optimum productivity for these different environments.


    Seventy-one ecotypes were collected from different locations in Texas and Oklahoma and planted in a common garden at Temple, TX. The genetic diversity within this collection will be characterized using EST-SSRs, and the ploidy level of each ecotype is being determined using flow cytometry. Measurements are made for plant parameters for the ALMANAC model. Nitrogen response data is collected from four sites to follow up on previous studies by NRCS.

    Measurements will be taken in 2019 on agricultural experiment station plots and on four farmers’ fields with different treatments including applied fertilizer and harvest interval.  The field experiment was not repeated in 2020 because of COVID restrictions, but will be repeated in 2021.  The experiment was laid out as a split block randomized complete block design with three replications. Results of this project will lead to optimized management of these accessions, esp. applied fertilizer, to minimize cost, maximize profit return, and avoid negative environmental impacts (esp. soil and water qualities), and maximize forage quality. Information derived from these sites was used to develop process-based modeling of crop growth. This model is an effective way of representing how EG accession, environment, and cropping management interactions affect forage production. This will increase the accuracy of crop productivity estimates and improve planning adaptation strategies to reduce risks and uncertainties about economic returns generated from planting EG. The developed forage model system will be used for decision-making, farm planning and educating farmers or ranchers about potential benefits of EG establishment. Education effort for farmers or ranchers will be carried out using field demonstrations and through news publications directed towards agricultural producers. Farmers will be offered a chance to visit the research plot areas, with an annual field day and talks by the researchers to discuss the economic and environmental benefits and remaining challenge of an EG production system

    Project objectives:


    Our objective was to enumerate eastern gamagrass benefits and provide better guidance for establishment and fertilizer application of this grass for maintaining productive, resistant, and resilient forage and hay production.

    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.