Moore farmers invited to apply for large-scale grasslands project

The UT Grasslands Partnership seeks Moore County beef cattle, goat, and sheep farmers whose animals graze in tall fescue for a initiative to improve productivity on forage-based farms. {File Photos}

STATE AG NEWS | Moore County beef cattle farmers are eligible to take part in one of the largest initiatives ever undertaken to improve productivity, profitability and conservation benefits of grasslands in the eastern U.S. This program is also open to pasture-based sheep and goat operations.

A total of 230 farms are being sought to collaborate on this sweeping initiative, known as the Grasslands Partnership and spanning nine states: Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri and Indiana.

The main objectives of the project are to identify specific pasture practices that not only improve productivity and profitability, but also provide livestock operations with the opportunity to engage with emerging markets for carbon, other conservation benefits, and premiums that may be available for cattle raised under these practices.

Farmers are being recruited who are interested in implementing practices such as improved grazing management, native grass pastures, interseeding legumes, silvopasture and application of two novel soil amendments, either or both biochar and gypsum.

Participants in the project will partner with Extension to monitor the practices to determine outcomes such as soil health, soil carbon, grazing days and, in some cases, improvements to populations of grassland birds, such as bobwhite quail, and pollinators.

The project provides compensation to producers to cover the cost of practice implementation. Interested beef cattle, sheep or goat producers should contact the Moore County Extension office at 931-759-7163 or visit the Grasslands Partnership website for more information and are encouraged to apply. The target date to complete enrollment is June 30.

This five-year collaborative project is funded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. Extension agents and specialists from 11 land-grant universities are conducting the project with support from scientists in a wide range of fields, including soils, agronomy, agricultural economics and conservation. The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture is leading the project.

Key supporters and partners for this initiative include the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, American Forage and Grassland Council, National Grazing Lands Coalition, and the National Bobwhite & Grasslands Initiative.•

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