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How Grass Grows

How Grass Grows

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How Grass Grows

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  1. How Grass Grows Developed by: Wendy Williams, NRCS, Bozeman, MT UNCE, Reno, NV

  2. Topics to be covered: • How plants make food • Legumes and grasses • How pasture plants grow • Growth and reproduction • Managing growing points • Plant identification • Determining forage yield

  3. flower leaf stem leaflet stolon taproot Parts of a legume A. Miller

  4. Parts of a grass plant NRCS, Bozeman, MT

  5. Growing Points • Location where cells divide and produce new growth • Occur close to the ground early in the growing season • Become elevated above ground as the growing season progresses NRCS, Bozeman, MT

  6. Forage Growth and Management USDA NRCS

  7. Stages of grass growth • Vegetative • Growth of leaves • Elongation • Lengthening of stem internodes, also called jointing • Boot stage is the end of elongation • Reproductive • Development of seedhead and seed

  8. Carbohydrate reserves (food) • Stored in roots, rhizomes and stolons • Used for first spring growth of dormant plants • Allow rapid regrowth from stubble Penn State University Kentucky bluegrass rhizome

  9. Regrowth Intact growing points Growing point level Short-shoot plant Regrowth Growing points removed; must regrow from basal buds Long-shoot plant (elongated internodes)

  10. Adapted from NRCS, Bozeman, MT

  11. Adapted fromNRCS

  12. Take half and leave half Adapted fromNRCS, Bozeman, MT

  13. Identifyinggrasses Identifying grasses UNCE, Reno, Nev.

  14. Perennial ryegrass

  15. Orchardgrass

  16. Switchgrass

  17. Sainfoin

  18. How much grass do I have? How much grass do I have?

  19. Determine forage yield Construct a clipping ring using an eight foot long piece of cable that has been bolted together.

  20. Wait a minute! I don’t have grazing animals! • What are you trying to manage? • What are your management goals? • Attract and maintain wildlife • Discourage wildlife • Defensible space • Aesthetics • Noxious weed management

  21. Methods for removing forage • Mowing • Need equipment • Need grass species that grow upright • Be sure to maintain the growing points • Fertilize or add legumes • Leasing to livestock managers for grazing • Need to know your forage yield • Don’t assume management will be good

  22. Managing Grazing for Sustainable Pastures Developed by: Wendy Williams, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Montana Holly George, University of California Extension Service NRCS, Bozeman, MT

  23. We’ll be covering • Benefits of implementing grazing management • Steps to effective grazing management • Estimating carrying capacity • Monitoring your land by making footprints • Grazing systems and pasture configurations • Grazing tips

  24. Why manage grazing? • Keep plants healthy and productive • Increase forage production and saves money • Increase grazing capacity • Improve use of forage supply throughout the year • Help control weeds USDA NRCS

  25. Steps to effective grazing management: • Graze to the desired stubble height • Don’t forget to preserve growing points • Allow adequate rest periods for grass regrowth • Don’t regraze a pasture until your key species has reached the desired height • In an irrigated pasture, don’t let seed heads form

  26. How many animals can I graze? ACES

  27. No matter how many animals… some things are the same You need to know: • CARRYING CAPACITY, or the number of animals a pasture can accommodate without overgrazing • STOCKING RATE, or the amount of forage stock are going to eat UNCE, Reno, NV

  28. Methods for estimating carrying capacity • Pasture sticks & other physical methods • Animal Unit Months • Animal Days Per Acre UCCE

  29. Estimating carrying capacity in ADA 10 yards Pace off an area of pasture that one animal would need for grazing for one day as the sole source of forage 10 yards

  30. Calculate stock days per acre • Multiply the length by the width • Calculate square yards per acre needed per animal per day • Divide 4,840 square yards per acre by square yards needed per animal per day • This gives Stock Days per Acre (SDA)

  31. Stock days per pasture • Multiply SDA by the number of acres in the pasture • The total represents the total number of stocking days in the pasture

  32. 25 yards Let’s try an example • You have five acres of pasture and four horses • Your experimental time period is one day • Area width and length are both 25 yards

  33. Step 1: Calculate stock days per acre • Calculate the area by multiplying length x width: 25 yards x 25 yards = 625 square yards • Divide 4,840 square yards per acre by 625 square yards per animal day 4,840 square yards/625 square yards = 7.7 stock days per acre (SDA)

  34. Step 2: Calculate total stock days per pasture • Multiply the stock days per acre times the total number of acres in the pasture 7.7 SDA x 5 acres = 38 stock days

  35. Step 3: Calculate the number of grazing days for the pasture • Divide the number of stock days by the number of horses 38 SD / 4 horses = 9.6 days You can graze the five-acre pasture with four horses for 9.6 days

  36. How do you know if your estimated grazing length is correct? Walk your land and look! UNCE, Reno, NV

  37. Overgrazing occurs two ways: • Leaving stock in a pasture too long OR • Bringing them back too soon NRCS, Bozeman, MT

  38. Stocking rate vs. stock density • The stocking rate of both paddocks is identical: 100 animal days per acre • However, the stock density is much greater in the pasture on the right, so the effect will be much different!

  39. Monitoring • Use observations and common sense • If there isn't enough feed in your pasture, you are either overstocked or not allowing enough rest, regardless of what the calculations said

  40. Make footprints to manage well • Get out on the ground & look at what is happening • Your footprints and observations of how pastures and stock look are critical to making the necessary adjustments UNCE, Reno, NV

  41. Three important questions • Look BEHIND: What rest period do my pastures need? • Look AHEAD: Has the paddock had enough rest? • Look WHERE the STOCK ARE: Is the stocking rate correct?

  42. J. Mohler, MT

  43. Good cover NRCS, Bozeman, MT

  44. Grazing systems • Season-long grazing • Partial-season grazing • Rotational grazing • Rapid rotation • Cell grazing

  45. Season-long grazing is not a good strategy  UNCE, Reno, NV

  46. Tips for improving your grazing management • Do not allow 24/7 access to forage areas; two to three hours during morning and evening will suffice • Divide or subdivide grazing areas into smaller blocks, where feasible • Improve waste management so that forage is not lost or damaged by wastes

  47. Additional tips for improving your grazing management • Control weeds and undesirable plants in pastures and adjacent areas • Prevent or reduce differential or selective grazing • Mow pastures, especially those dominated by bunchgrasses, if selective grazing has occurred

  48. What to Do About Weeds Developed by: Susan Donaldson University of Nevada Cooperative Extension UNCE, Reno, NV