(12/08/23) ALEXANDRIA, La. — The past few years have seen a steady uptick in the amount of information about carbon sequestration or capture, but what is it and how does it work were questions answered at the annual Louisiana Forage Conference held on Dec. 1 in Alexandria.
Each December, those involved in producing forages come together to discuss new research findings as well as best practices to increase production and improve quality.
In recent years, there has been more discussion related to carbon capture and what it means for Louisiana landowners.
The lineup of speakers on this year’s agenda just shows how big the industry is becoming and the benefits for those who get involved.
Ed Twidwell, LSU AgCenter forage specialist and secretary for the Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council, said this meeting was a little different from meetings of the past.
“This year, we partnered with Louisiana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative as a way to provide more information about conservation practices and soil health,” he said. “Past meetings were focused more on production, but attendees have requested more information on conservation.”
Twidwell said the jury is still out on the value of carbon sequestration because there are still so many more questions than answers.
“What we do know is that forest landowners are the biggest winners because trees sequester more carbon than other plants,” he said. “But forages come in second, ahead of row crops.”
Twidwell echoed the statements of Texas A&M agricultural law specialist Tiffany Lashmet, the keynote speaker, who reminded the participants to make sure to understand the contract for carbon capture before signing.
“We are really at the tip of the iceberg on carbon capture, and producers really need to be careful when going into contracts with some of these companies,” she said.
To answer some of the questions of the producers, there was a panel discussion by carbon sequestration industry representatives from Grassroots Carbon and Indigo Ag.
AgCenter beef specialist Marcelo Vedovatto discussed the various beef cattle studies being conducted and being planned at the Dean Lee Research Station.
Tara Morris, outreach coordinator for Louisiana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative and co-owner of Three Twelve Grassfed Beef in Slaughter, discussed the importance of forage management for beginning producer profitability.
“We have grown to the stage now where we are not only looking at forage production, but are more focused on regenerative agriculture,” she said. “This is different than sustainable, where you keep the status quo. For us, we want to add to and make the soil better.”
Twidwell said one of the biggest concerns that he hears from producers is about the damage caused by last summer’s drought.
“We experienced some extreme drought conditions last summer and the forages did take a beating, but our Bermuda and Bahia grasses are pretty resilient,” he said.
His prediction is that the early December rains will be very helpful, and those grasses should be fine.
“What you want to do is be conservative with your management and don’t graze it too hard in the spring and it should be OK,” he said.
Also at the meeting, Twidwell presented a plaque to outgoing president Mike McCormick for his service to the council.
Tiffany Lashmet, Texas A& M agricultural law specialist, the keynote speaker for the Louisiana Forage Conference in Alexandria on Dec. 1 spoke via satellite to the group. She stressed to the participants to make sure they understand the contract for carbon capture before they sign. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter
Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council president Mike McCormick discusses the pros and cons of baleage during the Louisiana Forage Conference in Alexandria on Dec. 1. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter
LSU AgCenter beef specialist Marcelo Vedovatto discussed the various beef cattle research studies being conducted and being planned at the Dean Lee Research Station. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter