(12/15/22) ALEXANDRIA, La. — Forage producers heard about a new potential income stream during a recent Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council and Louisiana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative meeting in Alexandria.
Producers normally assess their forage profit potential by what’s above ground, but carbon guidelines offered during the Dec. 2 annual forage conference shows that there’s cash underground as well.
LSU AgCenter forage specialist Ed Twidwell, who serves as advisor for the council, said each year organizers try to bring in a variety of speakers, including people from the industry and producers to give their experiences in growing forages.
“This year, the two organizations decided to pool our resources, and it has allowed us to bring in some interesting speakers,” he said.
Among the presenters was Ron Strahan, AgCenter forage specialist and Northwest Region director, who discussed weed problems in pastures.
Strahan discussed the variety of weed problems in pastures and the continuing problem producers are facing with the Chinese tallow tree.
“You can buy it as the popcorn tree, which is known for its beautiful fall colors,” he said. “But the problem is your neighbors will have lots of color also because it makes a lot of seed.”
Strahan said he’s found in his research that using the “hack and squirt” method with the herbicides Grazon P+D or Remedy controls tallow trees.
AgCenter livestock agent Jason Holmes brought good news to the producers in the form of better prices for cattle than in past years.
“The beef markets are doing well at this time,” Holmes said. “Inputs are still pretty high, but it’s really an exciting time to be in the beef cattle business.”
Information presented by U.S. Department of Agriculture staff brought a ray of hope to producers who are looking for new ways to generate income on their farms.
Among this year’s speakers were two USDA employees who discussed the link between soil and carbon.
USDA research ecologist Alan Franzluebbers, of North Carolina, and Chad Kicar, state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Louisiana, both discussed soil carbon and ways farmers can generate income through carbon sequestration on their farms.
Franzluebbers gave a presentation titled, “Soil Carbon: What’s grass got to do with it?” His discussion focused on the connection between organic matter and carbon production.
Franzluebbers said carbon is naturally built up in the soil, and grazing has the potential to increase the amount of carbon in the soil.
“There is a need for more research in this area to find out how much carbon is being stored in the soil, but carbon sequestration actually buys some time for those producing large amounts of carbon by buying credits from agriculture to offset their emissions,” he said.
Kicar also gave an update on the status of the NRCS conservation and stewardship programs and career opportunities for the 2023 fiscal year.
“I’ve hired about 90 people in the past two years,” Kicar said. “But during that same timeframe, we had 50 people to retire. So, we are asking the producers to show some love to these new people and help them to get their feet on the ground.”
Twidwell said the meeting is normally sponsored by Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council, whose goal is to help producers improve their forage production.
“Forages are not normally given a lot of attention, but the council is looking at ways to bring the topic more to the forefront,” he said.
The conference ended with the annual Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council business meeting and a sponsored lunch.
U.S. Department of Agriculture research ecologist Alan Franzluebbers of North Carolina discussed his research on carbon buildup in the soil during the recent Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council and Louisiana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative meeting held in Alexandria. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter
Chad Kicar, state conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Louisiana, discussed conservation and stewardship programs as well as career opportunities during the recent Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council and Louisiana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative meeting held in Alexandria. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter
LSU AgCenter forage specialist Ed Twidwell speaks at the business meeting at the recent Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council and Louisiana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative meeting held in Alexandria. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter