Johnny Morgan, Pitman, William D., Twidwell, Edward K., Davis, Stacia | 12/16/2015 8:57:18 PM
ALEXANDRIA. La. – Members of the Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council heard about the importance of good soil health at their annual meeting on Dec. 4.
Presentations on the importance of soil microbes and maintaining soil moisture in pastures were high- priority topics for the meeting, said LSU AgCenter forage specialist Ed Twidwell. The program also included producers who discussed using annual ryegrass as a cover crop and a grazing source.
“We even had producers who discussed forage alternatives for small ruminants, producing and marketing pastured poultry, forest pigs and grass-finished beef,” Twidwell said.
AgCenter soil scientist Lisa Fulz explained the importance of soil microbes in a crop or forage system and discussed how the management of these microbes can increase forage production.
“What I want to do is show how to utilize the data they receive back from their soil test,” Fulz said. “There are things that they have seen, but there may be data that is overlooked. I want to show them why it can be important.”
AgCenter irrigation engineer Stacia Davis discussed how water moves through the soil. She said she is interested in how water affects the soil.
“Largely, the producers are not irrigating their pasture land. But, with the drought conditions of the past few years, that may be something that we see more of in the future,” she said.
A topic that seemed to pique a lot of interest was the potential for using native legumes for Louisiana pastures.
AgCenter researcher Buddy Pitman talked about some plants that are often not considered but are native to the area and have potential as a forage source.
“The herbaceous mimosa is just a little low-growing thing that has been looked at by NRCS and the program at the LSU AgCenter Red River Research Station,” he said.
Over 100 varieties of these native species are found in Louisiana, Pitman said. “But they are fairly specific as to soil and moisture conditions.”
Louisiana State Conservationist Kevin Norton, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, gave an update of the work his agency is doing.
“We’ve actually selected a new state grassland specialist,” Norton said. “Dwayne Rice is coming to us from Kansas. We’re excited to have him since it’s been over a year now since we’ve had a full-time state grassland specialist.”
The conference ended with the annual business meeting which was conducted by Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council president Kun-Jun Han, who is also an LSU AgCenter agronomist.
Twidwell announced that Louisiana will host the national forage conference in Baton Rouge in January.