Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Hannah Stevens
Exploring Alternative Grazing Grasses for Livestock Farmers
Agronomists working with the University of Virgin Islands are looking for better-quality and more drought-tolerant forage alternatives to the current grazing grasses for livestock farmers on the island.
Through a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Grant (SSARE) On-Farm Research Grant, Worku Bulayu, an agronomist, and his colleagues are investigating the possibility of teff and Rhodes grass as an alternative to common grazing grasses like hurricane grass, buffel grass, and guinea grass. They are comparing the establishment, height, yields, and nutritional value of Rhodes grass and Mombasa grass in a two-year experiment.
The researchers also plan to include leguminous cover crops into the field trials to assess the grasses’ protein quality.
The hypothesis, which the researchers arrived at, is that introducing drought-tolerant, low input grass crops with leguminous cover crops can result in a variety of soil health benefits, including improved agricultural productivity, better drought resistance, sustainable grazing systems, and improved environmental outcomes.
Teff, a warm-season annual grass, has seen increased popularity as a summer forage, fodder, and grain crop because of its fast-growing characteristics, low input costs, drought tolerance, and high quality forage.
Rhodes grass can be found all over the tropics. It is a prolific hay crop, which is easily established. And, it is drought-tolerant, salt-tolerant, and can withstand heavy grazing.
The U.S. Virgin Islands Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) is a program for professional development sponsored by the Southern Region SARE, and coordinated by the University of the Virgin Islands.
The program aims to improve the state’s economic, social, and environmental sustainability through education and research. The U.S. Virgin Islands SARE works with producers, researchers, extension faculty, and community groups to implement and research the top science-based practices available in every area of the Virgin Islands’ agricultural system. Furthermore, SARE is committed to providing education in sustainable agriculture through a variety of training each year.
You can also read more about Farm Certifications – SARE Southern.
U.S. Virgin Islands Impacts
- $1.1 million in funding since 1988
- 12 projects funded since 1988
Professional Development Program
In each state, agricultural educators work directly alongside farmers and ranchers to promote sustainable agriculture production and marketing. SARE state agricultural coordinators offer support in sustainable agriculture education and outreach strategies through a program called “The Professional Development Program” (PDP).
The Sustainable Agriculture Fellows Program is offered by SARE and NACAA. It enhances Cooperative Extension staff’s knowledge of sustainable agriculture and gives them broad-based national exposure to unique and successful sustainable agriculture programs.
SARE State Coordinators play a vital role in expanding sustainable agriculture training for Extension, NRCS and other agricultural professionals. This will help producers transition to a more sustainable farming system.
District Supervisor/Assistant Director
University of the Virgin Islands
Email | (340) 693-1083
You can see more Farm Grants for Females elsewhere on this website.