- Animals: bovine
- Animal Production: feed/forage
Integrated grazing of grasses and woody legume forages in Hawaii and the Pacific Basin has great potential to improve the sustainability of livestock production. Increasing local food production and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are twin goals of the State of Hawaii. Leucaena is a genus of multi-purpose N-fixing trees that has been used as a high-protein forage crop in the tropics and sub-tropics, but its reputation as an invasive species limits its use. The University of Hawaii has developed seedless hybrids of Leucaena, but there is no research on the productivity or forage quality of these hybrids in different environments. There are also no well-established and cost-effective methods to propagate and establish rooted plants in existing pastures, which producers identify as a serious barrier to adoption.
Our objectives for the research plan are (1) optimize and scale up vegetative propagation of seedless Leucaena hybrids, (2) evaluate (2) develop cost-effective practices to establish rooted cuttings of this hybrid in existing and new pastures to create a silvopasture system, (3) evaluate the productivity and forage quality of this silvopasture system in different climates and soil types, and (4) develop a financial model of Leucaena silvopasture in varying growing conditions. We will establish experimental trials on agricultural research stations to evaluate hybrid productivity, forage quality, and effects on soil organic matter under simulated grazing. Plant nurseries will adapt existing propagation methods for commercial-scale production. Agriculture and forestry operations firms will develop cost-effective outplanting practices for commercial-scale establishment. Results will allow for the development of a financial model to estimate costs and benefits of integrating Leucaena.
Our objectives for the education plan are (1) develop a project website and video channel to share general information and updates about the project; (2) host workshops and a field day to engage producers and other stakeholders to learn about interests, needs for adoption, demonstrate the silvopasture system in the field, and introduce the financial model; (3) develop videos and podcasts to complement workshop topics and interview researchers, extension experts, producers, and other stakeholders engaged in this project; and (4) produce scientific and professional research and extension presentations and publications on these topics.
The primary outcomes will be (1) efficient and large-scale propagation protocols, (2) effective establishment practices at a reasonable cost for producers that optimize forage productivity and quality for beef cattle production, (3) a working financial model that captures the range of costs and projected benefits of Leucaena silvopasture across a range of growing conditions.
Project objectives from proposal:
The goal of this research is to demonstrate a viable silvopasture system with seedless Leucaena hybrids under a range of growing conditions. Our objectives for this project are to
- Optimize and scale up vegetative propagation of seedless Leucaena hybrids,
- Develop cost-effective practices to establish rooted cuttings of seedless Leuacena in existing and new pastures to create a silvopasture system,
- Evaluate the productivity and forage quality of this system in different climates and soil types, and
- Develop a preliminary financial model of Leucaena silvopasture in different climates and soil types.
The goal for this research cannot be fully accomplished with a single project. This initial project is intended to facilitate the ability to initiate grazing trials in a few years and to addresss the key barriers to adoption as identified by producers. These include the lack of supply of plant material at the scale needed for grazing, the uncertainty of how to effectively establish Leucaena in existing pastures, and concerns over the direct costs of establishment and the opportunity cost of taking grazing land out of production for the time it takes to establish Leucaena (expected to be one year).