January 2, 2002 | By: Laura Skillman

When Garry Lacefield, a University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service forage specialist, teamed with two colleagues from other southern universities, they planned to produce a practical, user-friendly book on southern forages that could be used by producers and farm advisors.

"We saw it as a need, certainly in our states," Lacefield said.

That book, Southern Forages, was first published in 1991 and is used today by livestock producers, Extension workers and as a textbook in more than 50 U.S. colleges and universities. The third addition will be released this year. It has also achieved international acclaim, with the English editions being used in universities in South Africa, Brazil and Argentina. It has also been translated into Polish and, most recently, into Chinese. A Spanish edition is in the initial stages.

Lacefield and his co-authors, Don Ball of Auburn University and Carl Hoveland of the University of Georgia, were in China during November for the unveiling of the Chinese edition and to conduct seminars. The translation was done by Xianglin Li of the International Livestock Research Institute with support from the Oregon Seed Council and the Phosphate and Potash Institute.

The first international version occurred when a Purdue University scientist working in Poland was challenged to write a forage book for that country. When he came back to the United States, he looked through forage books available in this country and found that Southern Forages with only minor modifications, such as climates and soils, would be a good fit for Poland.

"We thought this would be a good thing and a humanitarian thing to do," Lacefield said. "We receive no royalties from the Poland edition (or the China edition). A scientist from Poland was brought in to do the translation."

The China edition came about from previous visits and work that Lacefield has done there. In 1999, he and Ball were invited to China to do a series of workshops for people who would be advising farmers seeding forages on 7 million acres along the reservoir of the Three Gorges Dam.

"We did that and took some of the English editions of the book with us," he said. "Then, the Oregon Seed Council, Chinese government and universities had a request for the book in Chinese."

Lacefield said China's climate is very much like the southern United States.

"Farms there are very, very small," he said. "But their potential to expand their forage base is very, very good."

Lacefield said assisting the Chinese farmers with forages does not add a potential competitor for the United States. But it does open up the market for U.S. seed producers in the west and helps ensure that good, quality forage seeds remain available for U.S. producers, he said.

"They've got 1.3 billion people to feed, so they've got a long way to go," he said.

Being in China for the debut of the book was exciting, he said.

"It was a tremendously rewarding experience as a scientist to see work that you have been involved in be used in another country without any guilt that these people were going to put our beef producers out of business," he said.


Garry Lacefield, (270) 365-7541