A study by a Texas AgriLife researcher shows that cool-season grasses have advantages that make more economic sense in the Southern Plains region.
Wheatgrass, a cool-season grass, may be an economic boon to the Southern Plains states.
Vernon, Texas – Access to swine effluent or waste
water can help a producer grow more grass. But a Texas AgriLife researcher says
the grass is “greener” economically if it is a cool-season rather than a
Dr. Seong Park,
AgriLife Research economist in Vernon, says while the warm-season grasses
appear to have a greater growth boost with swine effluent application, the
cool-season grasses have marketing advantages that make it a more viable
economic option for producers in the Oklahoma Panhandle and Southern Plains.
had the results of his study published in the Journal of American Society of
Farm Manager and Rural Appraisal. The study was funded by a U.S. Department of
Agriculture grant for “Comprehensive Animal Waste Systems in Semiarid
Ecosystems.” Cooperators in the study were Dr. Jeffrey Vitale and Dr. Jeffory
Hattey, both with Oklahoma
evaluated the risk and economics of intensive forage production systems under
four alternative types of forage and two alternative nitrogen sources, he says.
The results will help farmers make better informed production decisions.
compared two cool-season grasses – orchard grass and wheatgrass – with two
warm-season grasses – Bermuda grass and buffalo grass, he says. The two
nitrogen sources used to fertilize the crop were urea or swine effluent.
Park says their
model showed that intensified production of cool-season grasses with the
application of fertilizer appeared to be the more economically viable option
for producers in the Southern Plains.
This, in part,
was due to seasonal constraints on forage production that drive up prices of
cool-season grasses, he says, providing better marketing opportunities than
with lower production costs and more stable yields, cool-season grasses have
higher returns and less risk than warm-season grasses, which often have
negative returns, Park says.
economic return of the cool-season grasses was $274.17 per acre, which was
considerably higher than the warm-season grasses average return of $36.64 per
acre, he says.
“This is an
interesting result, since the dry matter yields of warm-season grasses were
found to be significantly higher in the field trials than those of the cool-season
grasses,” Park says.
between yield and economic performance can be explained by both the higher
market prices and lower variable costs of the cool-season grasses that
compensated for the lower yields, he says.