Consortium meeting poster presentations

Complete poster instructions

We are doing things differently this year for the Poster Paper Session at the 2015 Northeast Pasture Consortium Conference. We will only be able to display half posters. Suggested size 36 inches tall by 48 inches wide. We will be displaying them on easels, either by using an easel you can bring or ones we rent from the Waterfront Place Hotel & Conference Center.

I am attaching the detailed instructions for the poster paper session to this email. This is an updated version to the one posted in the January News Update from the Consortium with more emphasis that we cannot put them on a wall, but must be on an easel. I picture the metal easels the Waterfront Place has available in the attachment.

Please submit the title of your poster paper and the author name(s) and affiliation(s) by February 6 if at all possible; see poster instructions for details. I can accept poster papers after that but would like most of them submitted by that time to plan for enough floor space with my hotel contact. I will need the abstract of the paper by February 27.

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Consortium 2015 meeting update

From Jim Cropper, Executive Director of the Northeast Pasture Consortium:

Attached is the January 2015 News Update announcing all the details of our 2015 Conference being held at the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown, WV on March 11 and 12. Use group code 262399 and place your hotel reservations by February 10.

Immediately following our conference is the Appalachian Grazing Conference on March 13 and 14 at the same venue. Their conference agenda is in the News Update as well. I held up sending out the News Update as we are trying some new things this year and they all came together this afternoon. Please register for the conference and for a hotel room by the deadline dates.

Please note that this year you can register for our Conference on-line. The registration deadline is February 27. I tested it by registering on-line this afternoon when it first became available and it was very simple to do. Just remember, public sector members, to say which 2 concurrent research needs sessions you want to participate in. This is a new feature on the registration form this year. At the back of the News Update is the mail-in version of the public sector member registration form. It lists the concurrent sessions being offered. Farmer members as well as public sector members can register on-line. You are given a choice menu. I will send out the farmer member mail-in registration form as well in a separate email, so those who would rather not register and pay on-line have the usual way of registering. Please note that we are doing all this through the University of Vermont this year as Dr. Sid Bosworth is the new principal investigator taking over the reins from Dr. Ed Rayburn of WVU.

Poster paper presenters please read the Poster Paper article carefully in the News Update. Deadline for submission of poster paper title and author names is February 6, 2015. We have to do things differently this year. We have to post the poster papers on easels this year. You will need to use a hardboard backing or other rigid backing to display the poster paper that is printed-out on a spool of paper. The biggest poster paper dimension feasible this year is a 36-inch high by 48-inch wide one. Please note there are 2 deadlines. One is for the poster paper title and author names/affiliation. The other is for an abstract of the poster paper. Also note we will have only one poster paper session this year. It is an hour long session 3:00-4:00 PM on March 11. These poster papers will be displayed in our main conference room. You can put them up in the early morning of March 11 to get maximum viewing during the day and evening.

I have given you a run-down on each technical session in the Conference Overview. The full agenda is also shown.

I also have included a couple of news articles that were just recently received. One is about an Excel spreadsheet that lets you put a pencil to figuring out what to charge for grass-fed (finished) beef. The other is about acorn poisoning that can occur when a heavy acorn crop is produced by oak trees growing in pastures that may be short on grass for livestock to eat in late Fall. OK for deer and pigs, but not so good if cattle, sheep, goats, and horses over-indulge.

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September newsletter

The September NEPC newsletter (PDF) has information on the 2015 annual meeting, grazing management, the bluegrass billbug and more.

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2015 Northeast Pasture Consortium Annual Meeting

Our annual conference and meeting in 2015 will be at the Waterfront Place Hotel and the Greater Morgantown Conference & Convention Center on March 11-12 in Morgantown, WV. It precedes the Appalachian Grazing Conference held on March 13-14 at the very same location. The Waterfront Place Hotel and Conference Center is located at Two Waterfront Place 3 miles from the West Virginia University Ag. Sciences Building. It is hoped that the later date will avoid the bad weather that we have endured the past two years.

Your Executive Committee has selected these topics for the 2015 conference: Riparian Pasture Literature Review Results & Discussion; Orchardgrass Die-off, Possible Causes and Preliminary Findings; Progress of the “Assisting Organic Dairy Producers to Meet the Demands of New and Emerging Milk Markets” Research Project; Results of Energy Audits on Grazing Farms in the Northeast; and Dung Beetle Usefulness and Protection in Pastures. The registration form and detailed agenda will be available soon.

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Carbon sequestration potential of agricultural systems

Carbon Sequestration Potential of Agricultural Systems

R. Howard Skinner USDA-ARS, University Park, PA

(full report)


Through proper management, agricultural systems (cropland, pasture, and forest) have the ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequester it in soils and wood products. The carbon thus sequestered can help slow the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide currently occurring as a result of burning fossil fuels, and could help reduce the potential impacts of future global warming. Several entities, both national and international, are now, or in the future will offer payments for sequestered carbon. This poster presents results from an extensive literature review comparing the carbon sequestration potential of various agricultural systems including conventional and reduced tillage row crops, pastures and native grasslands, and forested lands. Globally, terrestrial ecosystems sequester 100 to 300 kg C/ha/yr (90 to 270 lbs C/acre/yr). Sequestration rates on individual farms can be much higher, but they can also be negative under some management practices and climatic conditions. Agricultural carbon sequestration could offset about 15% of current fossil fuel emission but perhaps only 5% or less of future emissions.


An extensive review of the literature examined 68 published articles ranging from studies of individual sites to global estimates of ecosystem carbon sequestration potential. Three primary types of analyses were included:

  1. use of soil cores to directly meaure changes in soil carbon over time;
  2. micrometeorological and survey methods that track individual C inputs and outputs;
  3. model simulations.

Studies are mostly from the United States and Europe. Results are presented in lbs C/acre/year. To convert from C to CO2 multiply by 3.7.

atmospheric carbon flux monitoring


Croplands under conventional tillage are generally considered to be net sources of C to the atmosphere. No-till practices have been thought to increase C sequestration but recent studies cast doubt on that conclusion due to issues with soil sampling depth. Carbon losses under conventional tillage are small, about 400 lbs C/acre/yr. No-till practice might reduce C loss by half. Variability among and within studies is huge, with the difference between no-till and conventional ranging from –6000 to 4400 lbs C/acre/yr. In corn/soybean rotations, C tends to accumulate during corn years but is lost under soybean. Limited information is available comparing organic vs. conventional agriculture, but organic systems appear to sequester about 1000 lbs C/acre/yr more than conventional systems.


On average, grasslands sequester about 250 lbs C/acre/yr. Conversion from row crops to pasture can result in net C gain of about 650 lbs C/acre/yr. Mature pastures sequester less C than young pastures and can sometimes become C sources to the atmosphere. Results from various grassland studies range from a loss of 2250 lbs C/acre/yr to a gain of 3800 lbs C/acre/yr. Limited information suggests that rotational grazing can increase sequestration compared with continuous grazing, and that moderate N fertilizer rates can increase sequestration compared to either very low or very high fertility sites.

pasture photo


Forests differ from crop and grasslands in that most C is sequestered aboveground. Carbon is sequestered at higher rates than in agricultural soils but is also susceptible to rapid loss from fire and other disturbances. On average forests sequester about 1200 lbs C/acre/year with a range from –1500 to 6000 lbs/acre/yr. Forests tend to lose C for the first few years following clear cutting, but, in some cases, can sequester C for hundreds of years thereafter.


North American wetlands, including peatlands, freshwater mineral soils, estuaries, and tidal marshes sequester 1500 lbs C/acre/yr, with individual ecosystems ranging from 150 to 3000 lbs C/acre/yr. These are some of the most productive systems for C sequestration on the continent.

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Request for farmer collaboration, NH, ME, VT

From researchers at the University of New Hampshire (for information; this is not a NEPC-sponsored project):

We are looking for participants for an upcoming study at the University of New Hampshire related to the conversion of forest to pasture.

We have found that there are quite a few farmers locally who are interested in converting woodland to pasture in the form of silvopasture. There isn’t a lot of information available about the effects of different conversion strategies (i.e. total clearing to pasture, or thinning to silvopasture), and we are interested in looking at the impacts of those different strategies in terms of ecosystem services.

We are looking for participants located in central/southern New Hampshire, central/southern Maine, or central/southern Vermont. If you are thinking about converting forest on your property to pasture and are interested in participating, please e-mail Alix Contosta at alix (dot) contosta (at) unh (dot) edu for more details. In your e-mail, please:

1) Tell us where you are located

2) Provide a brief description of the acreage and intended management plan (for example, converting to open pasture or converting to silvopasture)

3) Put ‘Pasture study’ in the subject line.

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Ultra-high Stocking Density Grazing

Case Study: Dairies Using Ultra-high Stocking Density Grazing in New York and Pennsylvania
Dr. Kathy Soder, USDA-ARS Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit, University Park, PA

Full factsheet (PDF)

Ultra-high stocking density (UHSD) grazing, sometimes referred to as “mob grazing”, is characterized by:

  • high stocking density (units bodyweight/units area 500,000 + lb/ac)
  • small paddock size
  • mature forage
  • short grazing durations
  • long forage recovery times (90 to 180 days)

Some perceived benefits include:

  • increased profitability (via increased carrying capacity)
  • improved animal performance
  • improved forage species diversity
  • increased soil quality (improved organic matter, improved microbial action, and greater water holding capacity)

Ultra-high stocking density grazing was developed using beef cattle, often in arid rangeland environments. Little science-based evidence exists about the application of this grazing management practice on dairy farms in the northeastern U.S.

The Case Study

Four farms (3 in PA and 1 in NY) participated in this study. All dairy farmers were self-described UHSD graziers, with 15+ years of grazing experience. Farmers were initially surveyed to capture experience and management practices.

In June 2012, one representative pasture on each farm was identified to be study pasture. Farm visits to collect data occurred each time the study pastures were grazed from June to November of 2012 and from April to June of 2013. During each farm visit, researchers collected information about the number of cows grazing, pre- and post-grazed forage height, pre-grazed canopy stratification, and forage samples for forage quality analysis. In May of 2013 soil samples were collected from each study pasture.


  • Stocking densities were lower (44,091 to 337,161 lb/ac; Table 1) than UHSD grazing with beef cattle (500,000+ lbs/ac).
  • Pastures were rested longer (30 to 49 days) than usually seen with rotational grazing (21 day cycle).
  • Pastures were grazed taller (8 to 17 inches) than usually seen with rotational grazing (6 to 8 inches).
  • Forage utilization = 45% of total available dry matter.
  • Most forage consumption was from the upper canopy.
  • Forage quality was high throughout the season
  • Soil organic matter values (3.2 to 4.1 %) were as expected, but did not exceed values typical for this region.


The dairies in this study have taken a modified approach to current UHSD definitions by grazing slightly more mature (taller) forages and implementing slightly longer periods of forage rest, compared to rotational grazing.

UHSD grazing with beef cattle allows for more mature forage within a production system that is more forgiving on a daily basis (ADG) compared to a dairy system. Grazing forages that are too mature could result in an overestimation of nutrient availability and intake for lactating dairy cows, resulting in reduced animal production immediately reflected in the bulk tank.

Grazing dairy farmers who are interested in adopting UHSD grazing should proceed by taking small steps and allowing the system (animals, forages, soils) to respond before making further grazing management modifications.

This was a collaborative project between USDA-ARS and Penn State Extension. Funding was provided by Northeast SARE grant #PG12-021.

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Orchardgrass persistence survey

Dear Orchardgrass Task Force, Extension agents, Professors, Industry members, and others,

I am a PhD student in Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech. I am working with Dr. Ben Tracy on understanding the causes of reduced persistence in orchardgrass hay stands around the region.

One component of my work is to survey orchardgrass stands in the hay-growing regions of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania (See attached map). I would like to ask your help in finding orchardgrass stands to include in the survey.

It is my hope to be able to sample 30 to 50 fields across this region during and around my spring break, March 7-16. I will collect plant and soil samples, assess stand cover, and scout for insects and diseases. I will revisit these stands in August 2014, March 2015, and August 2015 to assess persistence. With a little bit of information from producers about their management practices, this survey should help to identify agronomic and ecological factors related to reduced orchardgrass persistence.

Right now, I’d like to generate a list of potential stands to include in the survey and collect some information from their producers. There are a variety of logistical challenges in terms a large area to cover in a short window of time, so I may not be able to visited every field submitted.

To be a good candidate for the survey, an orchardgrass field should:
- Be approximately within the region marked on the attached map.
- Contain 50% or more orchardgrass.
- Be approximately 2 – 5 years old.
- If possible, be located on a farm where some OG stands are in good condition and others poor – farms where are I can sample paired fields like this are especially valuable.

If you know producers with stands that meet these criteria, please:
- Work with the producer to fill out the attached one-page Stand Description sheet and return it to me. Please use one sheet per orchardgrass stand; multiple sheets per producers are encouraged.
- Provide me the exact location of this field. Three ways of doing this are to: send me latitude and longitude of the field, email me a Google Earth placemark, or send a NRCS soil map with the field outline.

Attached is a sample field submission.

With a list of potential fields, I will determine the route I’ll take between them and contact producers with when I’d like to visit their stands. This will be in early March, and I will not need any assistance from the producers during the actual sampling.

Please send me stand information by February 28.

I very much appreciate your help with this. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or issues. Feel free to share this email with whoever may be interested.

I’m quite interested to see what the survey turns up and hopefully be able to provide some recommendations to improve orchardgrass persistence.


Gordon B. Jones

Doctoral Degree Student
Crop & Soil Environmental Sciences
Virginia Tech

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2014 Grazing Monitoring Charts

Central New York RC&D has prepared the 2014 version of its grazing monitoring charts. These and other resources are available at their website.

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Evening grazing

Grazing few hours during the afternoon and evening
Dr. Kathy Soder, USDA ARS Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit

full report (PDF)


  • Cattle concentrate grazing during the afternoon and evening.
  • Pasture presents the highest sugar, digestibility and less fiber concentrations in the afternoon and evening.
  • Afternoon pasture allocations increases duration and intensity of afternoonevening meals and pasture intake at that time of day, improving animal performance.
  • Pasture intake rate is increase with “hunger”, therefore pasture intake during the afternoon-evening may not yet be maximized.


These facts led an Argentinean research team A planned morning fasting generates (National University of La Plata) to assess the impact of morning fasting periods combined with afternoon pasture allocations on grazing behavior, pasture intake and performance of beef heifers.

cattle grazing

When heifers were fasted:

  • Grazing time during afternoon-evening hours increased.
  • Idling increased and was concentrated during the morning.
  • Performance and pasture intake were not affected.

Potential Implications

A planned morning fasting generates longer, more intense afternoon-evening meals, increasing the intake of higher nutritive pasture, resulting in equal cattle performance with shorter grazing periods.

This management reduce residence time on pasture; therefore reducing injuries to plants and soil compaction. Consequently, this management would enable northeastern US graziers to improve future pasture production.

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