Report on the Agricultural Experiment Stations, 1952 Page: 27
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FORAGE CROPSj PASTURES, AND RANGES 27
season carried 50 percent more animal units per acre and produced a
70-percent increase in animal gains over a similar nonirrigated
Irrigation can be effective even when rainfall is normal. The
Kentucky station reported that during the 1951 grazing season central
Kentucky had a deficit of only 3.75 inches of rainfall but a nitrated
pasture that received seven 1-inch applications of water produced
5,300 pounds of dry matter per acre, whereas an untreated pasture
yielded only 3,000 pounds of dry forage. Dairy cows grazed on the
irrigated pasture produced almost 3,000 pounds more milk per acre
than those on the untreated pasture.
Water needs for bluegrass pasture were determined by the Missouri
station during periods of the growing season when moisture was adequate
and the grass was making vigorous growth. Consumption rates
were found to be 0.14 to 0.15 inch per day. Data such as these will
enable the farmer to determine how much supplemental irrigation is
needed and when the water should be applied.
The effects of irrigation may be apparent beyond the year in which
water is applied. The New Hampshire station found that a pasture
irrigated in 1950 but not in 1951 contained 7 percent more legumes at
the close of the 1951 grazing season than a similar pasture which was
not irrigated in either 1950 or 1951.
The Tennessee station reports that rainfall during the summer of
1951 was less favorable than normal. A pasture consisting of a mixture
of alfalfa, Ladino clover, and orchard grass was irrigated with
24.33 inches of water at a cost of about $60 per acre. Uniform grazing
was available throughout the season and dairy cows grazed on the
irrigated pasture produced 37 percent more milk than was produced
by cows fed on an unirrigated pasture. This increased production
represented a money value of $121 per acre, a gain of $61 above the
cost of irrigation.
At the Nebraska station 5 months of good pasture for dairy heifers
was obtained from an irrigated alfalfa, bromegrass, and Ladino
clover pasture. Pasturing the cattle for this period saved 608 pounds
of hay, 4,978 pounds of silage, and 83 pounds of grain per head. This
amounted to a saving of $28.45 per animal; the return on the pasture
was $50.91 per acre.
In the Western States excessive irrigation of high-altitude mountain
meadows has resulted in reduced yields of poor quality hay, with
a low protein content. The Colorado station has shown that on such
meadows the addition of phosphorus increased legume production
when the meadows were not excessively irrigated. This work has
demonstrated that mountain meadow hay yields probably can be more
than doubled by fertilization and improved water management. This
may have an important bearing on the livestock industry which has,
in the past, depended greatly upon overgrazed national forests for
feed during the spring, summer, and fall months.
Range and Pasture Establishment and Management
The successful production of forage crops depends, to a great extent,
upon establishment and management methods. Recent research
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United States. Office of Experiment Stations. Report on the Agricultural Experiment Stations, 1952, book, January 1953; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc5990/m1/29/: accessed December 16, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.