Lancaser Kernza and Silvopasture Field Day

The University of WIsconsin-Madison’s Lancaster Agricultural Research Station will host a fall field day highlighting innovative grazing practices: managed grazing of Kernza, a perennial grain and forage crop, and silvopasture, where trees are intensively managed with pasture. This field day will take place on October 5 from 9:45am to 1pm.

“These grazing innovations can add to a farm’s resilience by providing forage diversity and shelter for animals in extreme weather,” said Diane Mayerfeld, UW-Extension sustainable agriculture coordinator.  “Kerfnza and silvopasture also offer farmers the opportunity to harvest crops and grazed animals on the same land.

The Lancaster Ag Research Station is home to six multi-year experiments on Kernza, spread over 23 acres. Kernza is a forage grass that has been conventionally bred for increased seed yield, resulting in the first commercially available perennial grain crop. Following the August harvest of grain for human consumption, the plant regrows and produces a leafy, nutritious forage that can be grazed at the end of the growing season.

The tour will highlight best management practices for Kernza in southwestern Wisconsin, including optimum planting and harvesting dates, post-harvest management to maintain grain and forage yield and nutritive value, and response to grazing. Participants will learn about the latest advances in Kernza research and watch beef heifers grazing a mixture of Kernza and alfalfa in a rotational grazing system.

Lancaster also hosts research on silvopasture, the intensively managed integration of trees with pasture. Farmers using this practice reap multiple benefits from having trees and grass on their farms. Grazing provides regular income, and the forage layer protects the soil. Trees provide shade and shelter for livestock and, over time, may provide income from wood, nuts, or other products.

Researchers at Lancaster converted sections of woodland at the research station to silvopasture by removing some trees and planting a forage mix. The field day will cover forage growth and utilization in silvopasture and grazed woods plots, the effects of shade on livestock, and management challenges and recommendations for silvopasture.

This event is free and open to the public. A light lunch will be provided to participants who register before October 1. The Lancaster Ag Research Station is located at 7396 State Hwy 35/81. To register call 608-723-2580 or sign up on-line at https://go.wisc.edu/0w8g3v