Perennial Forage Kochia for Improved Sustainability of Grass-Dominated Ecosystems
Forage kochia is an introduced, long-lived, perennial, semi-evergreen half-shrub that is well adapted to Western U.S. rangelands. It will establish in and replace many noxious annual weeds such as cheatgrass. It does not invade perennial plant communities, but once it has replaced cheatgrass, perennial native species may re-establish in the stand of forage kochia, leading to diverse, stable perennial plant communities. Forage kochia has proved to be effective in greenstrips to stop wildfires. Preliminary research has shown that grazing forage kochia may reduce winter feed costs and increase sustainability of livestock production in rural areas.
The greatest limitation for acceptance of forage kochia by livestock producers is our limited knowledge of its value as a forage resource. Thus, our research objective is to evaluate livestock nutrient intake and performance responses to rangeland with or without forage kochia. This will include an economic evaluation, as described above. Our extension objective is to integrate this knowledge with previous knowledge about forage kochia to impact clientele knowledge, awareness, attitudes and skills.
Initial effort has focused on seeding forage kochia on one location on Darrell Johnson’s land and two locations on Grantsville Soil Conservation District (SCD) land. Sites were chosen and mapped in late summer of 2004. One of the locations on the Grantsville SCD became problematic because it contained an inclusion of privately owned land. An alternative site was chosen. Tillage operations to prepare seedbeds were conducted at all locations during the fall of 2004. Fences were constructed on the Grantsville SCD to protect the seedings from grazing during establishment of the forage kochia. Seeding was completed on the Darrell Johnson property in December 2004. Then we encountered a setback on the Grantsville SCD. Tooele County exercised a lease option that they held for our alternative location and we lost access to the site. Thus we seeded kochia one site on the Grantsville SCD land in January 2005. In August 2005, we chose yet another alternative site for the second forage kochia strip on Grantsville SCD land. Seedbed preparation has been completed and fence construction is underway at this site. It will be seeded in January 2006. Establishment of kochia has been slow at the two sites that were seeded in December 2004 or January 2005. Thus, we are not able to graze these sites this winter. We will monitor establishment of kochia and hope to initiate grazing experiments in the fall of 2006.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
To date, we are still in the establishment phase of the project, so we won’t have any outcomes until the forage kochia is established and we can conduct the grazing research and conduct the educational events. We have had a great deal of livestock producer interest, and they have closely watched the establishment of the forage kochia.
358 E Church Road
Office Phone: 4358820765
Utah State Univeristy
151 North Main
Toeele, UT 84074-2141
Office Phone: 4358432352
Rush Valley, UT
Office Phone: 4358372210
USDA-ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory
690 North 1100 East
Logan, UT 84322-6300
Office Phone: 4357973073
Brigham City, UT
Office Phone: 4357236301