Twilight tours featuring tips on forage grass management will be offered at various University of Tennessee AgResearch Centers across the state in May and June.

Presented by the UT Center for Native Grasslands Management, the tours will focus on using native grasses such as big bluestem, switchgrass, and eastern gamagrass in a livestock forage program.

“These highly drought tolerant, long lasting, low input, warm-season perennials can produce high yields of hay and excellent animal performance when grazed during the summer,” says Pat Keyser, director of the UT Center for Native Grasslands Management. “Yields can measure from 4 to 6 tons per acres and steers can gain an average 1.1 to 2.6 pounds daily when grazing these grasses.”

Each tour will be held at a University of Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center. Ongoing grazing trials will be visited and the latest results made available.

Tours at all locations will begin at 5:30 p.m. local time with a grilled steak supper. After a brief presentation, the group will tour the native grass pastures with the researchers, Extension specialists, and the Center staff managing the grazing projects.

Topics to be discussed include:

• Establishing native grass forages.

• Grazing management.

• Hay production with native grasses.

• Integrating forage and biofuel production.

• Managing native grasses for forage and wildlife.

The dates and tour locations are as follows:  

May 24: Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center, Spring Hill, Tenn. http://middletennessee.tennessee.edu/.

May 26: Highland Rim AgResearch and Education Center, Springfield, Tenn.http://highlandrim.tennessee.edu/.

June 21: Ames Plantation AgResearch and Education Center, Grand Junction, Tenn. http://www.amesplantation.org/.

June 30: UT AgResearch and Education Center at Greeneville, Tenn. http://greeneville.tennessee.edu/.

No cost to attend

There is no cost to attend a tour, but participants must register two weeks prior to the scheduled tour date. To register, please go online to http://nativegrasses.utk.edu/, and click on the link for “Forage Tours” on the home page. You may also register by e-mailing your name, affiliation (producer, business or agency name), and contact information (mailing address, phone, and if available, e-mail address) to mwright@utk.edu or by calling 865-974-7346 and providing that same information. You may register multiple individuals, but please provide the requested information for each.

Support for these tours has been generously provided by the NRCS through a Conservation Innovation Grant.

The UT Center for Grasslands Management is a project of the UT Institute of Agriculture. The UT Institute of Agriculture provides instruction, research and public service through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch, including its system of 10 research and education centers, and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.