We discuss and comment on the role agriculture will play in the containment of the CO2 problem and address protocols for terraforming the planet Earth.
A model farm template is imagined as the central methodology. A broad range of timely science news and other topics of interest are commented on.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Meadow Fescue and the Oak Savanna
At least today the average farmer
keeps his eyes open and checks on what works.I suspect that a lot of the better grasses simply need a better pacing
of the grazing schedule to optimize productivity.
I also expect that we will see a
return to growing trees in pasture lands as a matter of sound husbandry.Here we note the benefits of the old oak savannah
in providing sparse shade and some surprisingly rich soils.We need to discover trees that do the same as
the acacia in Africa were the leaves also
The point is that is this needs
to be really thought through and supported.Pasture land with ample shade, commercial timber production, wood chip
production, annual forage leaf production and shade cover for rich summer grass
production in combination with cattle husbandry to consume all the forage an
attractive alternative to the present uniculture approach that has to dance
around the high summer.
The idea of planning our pastures
as thinly populated woodlands with ample shade loving grasses should have been
obvious, but it was not even obvious in Africa were all the tools are in place.
Dairy Farmer Finds Unusual Forage Grass
by Don Comis
WashingtonDC (SPX) Mar 18, 2011
ARS geneticist Michael Casler has "rediscovered" a long forgotten
forage grass called meadow fescue. It offers better nutrition than tall fescue
and orchard grass.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) grass breeder has rediscovered a forage grass
that seems just right for today's intensive rotational grazing.
A farmer's report of an unusual forage grass led Michael Casler, an Agricultural Research
Service (ARS) geneticist at the agency's U.S.DairyForageResearchCenter
in Madison, Wis., to identify the grass as meadow
fescue. Meadow fescue has been long forgotten, although it was popular after
being introduced about 50 to 60 years before tall fescue.
ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.
Casler has developed a new variety of meadow fescue called Hidden
Valley, and its seed is being grown for future release.
Non-toxic fungi called
endophytes live inside meadow fescue, helping it survive heat, drought and
pests. Unlike the toxic endophytes that inhabit many commercial varieties
of tall fescue and ryegrass, meadow fescue does not poison livestock.
Charles Opitz found the grass growing in the deep shade of a remnant
oak savannah on his dairy farm near Mineral Point, Wis. He reported that the cows
love it and produce more milk when they eat it. Casler used DNA markers to
identify Opitz's find.
Meadow fescue is very winter-hardy and persistent, having survived
decades of farming.
It emerged from oak savannah refuges to dominate many pastures in the Midwest's driftless region, named for its lack of glacial
drift, the material left behind by retreating continental glaciers.
Casler and his colleagues have since found the plant on more than 300
farms in the driftless region of Wisconsin, Iowa
Geoffrey Brink, an ARS agronomist working with Casler, discovered that
meadow fescue is 4 to 7 percent more digestible than other cool-season grasses
dominant in the United
In another study, meadow fescue had a nutritional forage quality
advantage over tall fescue and orchard grass that may compensate for its
slightly lower annual yield further north, as reported in the Agronomy Journal.
Also, the yield gap begins to close with the frequent harvesting involved in