Extension and Ag Research News


Celebrate National Forage Week

National Forage Week is June 19-25.

The ninth annual National Forage Week is June 19-25. Forages, which include grassland pasture and range, account for the largest share of the nation’s land base.

Forages support the nation’s livestock industry, helping to provide our food supply with healthy meat, milk and wool, and support healthy ecosystems. Forages also have a major impact on the nation’s economy, contributing an estimated 25% to agriculture’s economic output. In 2022, U.S. hay exports exceeded 4 million metric tons, and total U.S. hay production has been in excess of 100 million tons annually since 1950.

“Forage production combined with good grazing management helps to cycle nutrients through the environment and promote healthy soils,” says James Rogers, North Dakota State University Extension forage crops production specialist. “Forages help to keep our soils covered and armored against wind and water erosion and increase water infiltration into the soil. Forages also improve soil structure and can increase soil organic matter and structure over time. By maintaining strong and vigorous forage systems, soil carbon remains in the soil and improves the capacity of soil to store carbon.”

The rise in the use of cover crops in cropping systems has increased the opportunities for forage production. Most cover crops are also excellent forage crops. The increase in popularity of cover crops has also increased opportunities for forage production and grazing with some non-traditional forage crops, such as okra, being added to cover crop mixes and grazed by livestock.

Maximizing forage use in ruminant nutrition reduces cost of production and improves producer’s bottom line, says Rogers. Forages can be preserved as a standing crop, hay, silage or baleage, thereby maintaining quality and extending forage use year-round.

“Forages are the backbone of support for our ecosystem and sustainability of our agriculture and food production systems,” says Rogers. “In celebration of National Forage Week, enjoy a cheeseburger and a milkshake or a big slice of your favorite pizza because forages played a huge role in each one of these. Next time you drink a glass of clean water, enjoy honey on a freshly buttered biscuit, or observe wildlife in a bountiful habitat, think of the forages that contributed to your enjoyment.”

NDSU Agriculture Communication – June 21, 2023

Source: James Rogers, 701-857-7682, james.rogers.1@ndsu.edu

Editor: Elizabeth Cronin, 701-231-7881, elizabeth.cronin@ndsu.edu

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