Exploring Alternative Grazing Grasses for Livestock Farmers
Agronomists with the University of Virgin Islands are exploring higher-quality and more drought-tolerant forage options as an alternative to current grazing grasses for livestock farmers on the island.
Through a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education On-Farm Research Grant, agronomist Worku Burayu and his colleages are studying the feasibility of teff and Rhodes grass as an alternative to such common grazing grasses as buffel grass, hurricane grass, and guinea grass. In a two-year study, they are comparing establishment, height, yields, and nutritional value of teff and Rhodes grass against Mombasa grass.
Additionally, the researchers are incorporating leguminous cover crops into the field trials to evaluate protein quality of the grasses.
The researchers hypothesize that the introduction of drought tolerant, low input alternative grass crops in conjunction with leguminous cover crops can lead to a range of soil health benefits: improved agricultural productivity, greater drought resilience, sustainable grazing systems, and better environmental outcomes.
Teff is a warm-season annual grass that has become more popular as a summer forage, fodder and grain crop due to its fast-growing characteristics, low input costs, drought tolerance and high forage quality.
Rhodes grass is found throughout the tropics and is a prolific hay crop that is easily established, and is drought tolerant, salt tolerant and tolerates heavy grazing.
SARE State Coordinators are vital for expanding sustainable agriculture training for Extension, NRCS, and other agricultural professionals, who will then help producers transition to a more sustainable agriculture.
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SARE IN THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
The U.S. Virgin Islands Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) is a professional development program sponsored by the Southern Region SARE and coordinated by the University of the Virgin Islands.
We work together to deliver a program that enhances the environmental, social, and economic sustainability of the state through research and education. U.S. Virgin Islands SARE partners with researchers, extension faculty, producers, and community organizations to research and implement the best science-based practices available in all aspects of the Virgin Islands agricultural system. In addition to research, SARE is dedicated to providing education in sustainable agriculture through various trainings offered each year.
U.S. Virgin Islands Impacts
Professional Development Program
Within each state, agricultural educators work directly with farmers and ranchers to further sustainable agriculture production and marketing practices. Through a program called the Professional Development Program (PDP), SARE state ag coordinators provide support for sustainable agriculture education and outreach strategies.
SARE and the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) offer the Sustainable Agriculture Fellows Program, which enhances Cooperative Extension personnel’s understanding of sustainable agriculture and provides broad-based, national exposure to successful and unique sustainable agriculture programs.