UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County staff
In an earlier post, I shared with you information about the South Florida Forage Management Tour and Workshop, an annual event hosted by UF/IFAS Extension to raise awareness of local farming operations and share the latest information and practices. In that post, you learned about operations at Longino Ranch, Dakin Dairy and Blackbeard’s Ranch. In this second and final post, we’ll continue with more of the day’s activities.
The forage management workshop featured a number of experts who presented information on a range of subjects. Maria Silveira, an associate professor of soil and water science at the UF/IFAS Range Cattle Research and Education Center (REC) in Ona, talked about the benefits of soil testing and sampling. She discussed when and how often you should sample, fertilizer recommendations, soil pH, and a host of other topics.
Lauren Butler, livestock agent with UF/IFAS Extension Okeechobee County, spoke on the many grass varieties and about pasture establishment/renovation. She explained that when choosing grasses which meet your needs, there are several questions you will need to ask, such as: What is your goal? And what will grow in our climate? She then went through the growing requirements for the various grasses, and the process to prepare a field for improved pasture establishment.
Joao Vendramini, an associate professor of agronomy and a forage specialist at the Ona REC, discussed forage management, grazing, conservation, animal nutritional requirements, stocking rate, stockpiled forage and haylage.
Brent Sellers, an agronomy professor with the Ona REC, discussed weed control in pastures. He noted the variety of chemicals used for treatment, dependent upon the type of weed. He also explained the benefits and costs of week control, offered suggestions for improved establishment of preferred grass varieties, talked about the effects of rainfall on weed control chemicals, and shared coverage recommendations.
Philipe Moriel, assistant professor in the Beef Cattle Nutrition Program at Ona REC, spoke on understanding forage-based nutrition and animal requirements based upon the animal breed, body weight, sex, level of activity, etc. He pointed out that if animal feed lacks required nutrition, animals will not be able to physically eat enough to grow or maintain. If forage has too little nutrition, increased supplementation may be required. Near the end of winter, you may need to increase supplementation in order to stretch the remaining forage. Environmental temperature and forage nutrition can play a role in the health and vitality of your cattle.
And Chris Prevatt, a State Specialized Extension Agent focusing on beef cattle and forage economics with the Ona REC, was the final speaker of the workshop. He discussed the economics of grazing forages, fertilization calculations to achieve economic foraging, and how to stockpile forages in South Florida. He offered information for both warm and cold season forages.
I found the presentations vastly educational, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time down on the farm.
A big thank you to our hosts and the many wonderful speakers for a very educational day.