May 19, 2011

The first in a series of four pasture walks hosted by the Eden Shale Grazing Network Initiative will take place June 2 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. EDT at the Eden Shale Research Farm in Owenton. The grazing network, overseen by a committee of forage experts, is designed for participants who have an interest in managing their forages and pastures for improved profitability. The walks provide an opportunity to see how others manage their forages, pastures and livestock while providing a chance to critique and question the operator.

At the June 2 pasture walk, Ray Smith, forage extension specialist in University of Kentucky College of Agriculture’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, will review the newest UK variety trials for red clover, alfalfa, tall fescue and orchardgrass. He will address whether improved forage varieties are really worth the added cost; explain how to use the UK Forage Variety Reports to choose the best variety; discuss seeding clovers into tall fescue fields and seeding options for renovating pastures and winter feeding areas. Smith also will cover the advantages of using a no-till drill for over-seeding and show how to calibrate it to achieve the proper seeding depth and seeding rate.

“Drought conditions during 2007, 2008 and 2010 caused severe thinning of pastures and hayfields in Kentucky,” Smith said. “Over-seeding these fields on a regular basis will ensure that you have the most forage production for your livestock.”

In this social learning experience, members of the network are both teachers and students, garnering timely and practical information that can assist in managing forages and pasture-based livestock systems.

“Many of the activities are hands-on: seeing what other members do on their farms and generating ideas that can be implemented on one’s own farm. This unique peer support makes the pasture walks really useful,” Smith said.

The Master Grazer Program, funded through the Agricultural Development Fund in partnership with the Kentucky Beef Network, sponsors this grazing-season educational program. University of Kentucky will support the network with a newsletter. Participants should contact their county extension agent for more information or to sign up. There is no fee to attend. The remaining three pasture walks are scheduled for Aug. 4, Sept. 6 and Oct. 6.

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