Cool-Season Grasses

A study by a Texas AgriLife researcher shows that cool-season grasses have advantages that make more economic sense in the Southern Plains region.

| July 8, 2011

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 warm-season variety.

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.

Park recently 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 State University.

The study 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.

The study 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.

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