Submitted to: Forage Focus
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: May 9, 2007
Publication Date: May 31, 2007
Citation: Brink, G.E. 2007. Plant physiology for profitable pastures. Forage Focus. Technical Abstract: A basic question of pasture-based livestock production is whether producers should manage pastures on the basis of what is best for the animal or what is best for the plant. Given that pastures are the principal and most economical source of feed, producers should carefully consider how they manage pastures; decisions to permit early or extended grazing may provide feed in the short term, but prove detrimental in the long-term. One of the most important consideration in grazing management is residual height. Adequate residue permits plants to produce new leaves quickly, while inadequate residue forces plants to rely on stored carbohydrates for new growth and lengthens the rest period between rotations. Other factors influencing plant recovery from grazing include grass species, nitrogen fertilization, water stress, and season of the year. Grasses such as bluegrass and ryegrass tolerate shorter residual than orchardgrass or smooth bromegrass. Appropriately-timed N application can not only increase yield, but increase growth of tillers, which provide growth for the following year. Producers should consider feeding stored forages or alternative feeds such as annuals rather than mismanage pastures.