Forage Plots In Wooded Areas Are On The Rise With Landowners

 Planting native warm season grasses in an agroforestry area.
 Photo courtesy of Dr. Dirk Phiipp

   There is increasing interest in planting forages into wooded areas, as food plots for wildlife or to provide more grazing ground for cattle, said Dirk Philipp, associate professor of animal science for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
   For those who own land and are looking to establish forage areas, there are a few steps that help make the process easier, Philipp said.
   “It might be best to contract a professional forester to evaluate land and give recommendations on which trees have value and which do not,” Philipp said about those looking to establish new forages in wooded areas.
   Most of Arkansas’ native forest are comprised of hardwoods, like oak. In the southern regions, pine is more common.
   Preparing the site and testing soil fertility is a must, Philipp said. Fertilization decisions should be based on soil test recommendations, available from local county Extension offices. One option for landowners is to burn the sites. Burning helps remove underbrush and prepare the soil surface to be worked.
   Planting options depend on the landowners situation, but many landowners’ only choice is broadcasting grass seed.
   “Planting can be done with a broadcast seeder on the back of an ATV or with a small tractor and a planter that is narrow enough to navigate around the remaining trees,” Philipp said. “Brillion seeders work well too.”
   There are a variety of forage species for landowners to choose from, Philipp said. Cool season perennial and annual grasses work well. Orchardgrass, tall fescue and annual ryegrass are all possible options, as well as some annual clovers.
   Annual legumes may have to be reseeded every year for grazing purposes, Philipp said. 
   If the landowner can afford to let annual legumes develop seed, chances are good that annual legumes will be present for a long time, Philipp said. ∆

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