The Panhandle Agriculture Extension Team and the North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC) teamed up to host a training for the UF/IFAS Faculty who work with forages and livestock in Marianna, on April 7th and 8th . Jose Dubeux, NFREC Forage Management Specialist, and Doug Mayo, Jackson County Extension Director, co-chaired the event that brought 50 of Florida’s brightest minds in agronomy and animal science together for an opportunity to share, learn and collaborate. This event represented all phases of the Land Grant Mission, with participants from teaching, research, extension, and students.
The first day of the training featured research and extension presentations related to forage and livestock production. Highlights of this session included introductions of new faculty, and veteran faculty and county agents sharing highlights of their latest work in Florida to improve livestock and forage production.
The second day offered a study tour of a ranch, a dairy, and some of the cutting edge research currently underway at the NFREC Beef Unit. The tour was held in April to showcase cool-season forage utilization and research in the Marianna area. The group was able to see how Mack Glass, Cherokee Ranch, is utilizing crimson and ball clover to improve both his cattle performance, and the subsequent production of his perennial pastures grasses. Cindale Dairy Farm shared how utilizing dairy effluent and rotational grazing of cool-season annual forages have improved the milk production of their herd. The dairy also shared some of their award winning gourmet ice cream, made from milk produced at the dairy, currently being marketed under the label of “Southern Craft Creamery”. The final tour stop was at the research station. The group got a close-up look at the small grain, ryegrass, and legume variety evaluation trials being conducted at the station. The NFREC faculty also showcased their research on cattle performance when grazing several different cool-season forage blends, and an evaluation of methane production from cattle under various production systems.
Perhaps the most excitement was generated when participants saw the research plots with an experimental line of 2,4-D resistant red clovers that have been developed using six generations of natural selection, by plant breeders at the University of Florida. 2,4-D is a low-cost herbicide commonly used to control spring weeds in pastures. Currently, ranchers must choose spring weed control or clover production, but not both. If these varieties can be successfully developed, it might greatly enhance the utilization of clovers in Florida pastures in the future.