Monday, November 2, 2009
Convention Center, Exhibit Hall BC, Second Floor
Use of perennial grasses, such as bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum), in row crop rotations can enhance crop yields and protect the environment. A study is on-going to demonstrate how best to integrate beef cattle (cow/calf system) into the rotation system to utilize the bahiagrass and the winter cover crops, and to evaluate the impact of grazing on subsequent yields of cotton and peanut. The study has (will) use two, irrigated farm-size fields (NW Florida; 61 ha and SE Alabama; 20 ha). Each field is divided into four sections which are on a 4 yr rotation of bahiagrass (bahia1), bahiagrass (bahia2), peanut and cotton. The fields have non-grazed (exclusion) areas to evaluate the impact of grazing. The cattle graze bahia2 starting May, continue grazing until Aug, graze bahia1 until frost (Nov), and fed hay (oat or bahiagrass) until calving (Jan thru Mar). After calving, cows and calves graze winter cover crops (rye and oat blend) until May, and the cycle repeats. Calves are weaned in Aug. Each site uses a constant number of cows year round. Put and take cows are used during the winter/spring to utilize excess forage. Hay is harvested from Bahia2 in Oct and this field is planted into oat (sod-seeded) which is harvested for hay (FL) in April or grazed (AL). After 2 yr at the FL site, 45 calves per yr have been raised, and the winter cover crops provided extra grazing days (mean of 2548 d).