By Tanner Hood
Forage experts from across the nation visited Alabama farms in Baldwin and Monroe counties Jan. 10 during the American Forage and Grassland Council (AFGC) Annual Conference.
“It’s awesome to host so many from all over,” said Greg Kaiser of Kaiser Farms in Seminole. “Everything changes drastically the farther you travel from here. It’s good to show the attendees some things they’ve probably never seen and give them new ideas.”
Greg and his brother Mark, the Alabama Farmers Federation District 11 director, manage the hay and cattle farm in south Alabama.
“We raise cow-calf pairs and grow bahiagrass and annual ryegrass, and we’ve started perennial peanut hay production on approximately 40 acres,” Kaiser said. “We also practice limit grazing. We turn our cows out on grass for five to six hours a day, and they stay happy and healthy.”
The group of over 100 scientists then traveled to the Gulf Coast Research and Extension Center (GCREC) in Fairhope where Alabama Extension researchers presented recent ryegrass study results. Attendees also learned about the pressures facing farmers in high-growth areas like Baldwin County. That includes increasing land prices and water runoff concerns.
GCREC Associate Director Todd Frank echoed Kaiser’s sentiments on hosting AFGC members and conference attendees.
“It’s a great opportunity to showcase what research we offer and show our new crops,” Frank said. “The guests are looking at our forages, ryegrass variety trials and cover crops and how those are used for our cattle. This shows a totally different aspect than they’re used to, and we hope they get good ideas.”
Clemson University Climate-Smart Extension Associate Hannah Malcomson said she gained a wealth of knowledge during her first trip to Alabama.
“Coming down here and seeing the passion for grasses has been exciting,” Malcomson said. “The conference and tours have been a great mixture of academia and what producers need to know. It’s fun to learn from people all over the industry.”
The tour culminated with a stop at Tim Tucker Farms in Uriah. Tucker provided rolls of peanut hay for attendees to examine while presenting his use of drone-applied ryegrass as a cover crop.
Federation Hay & Forage Division Director Chris Prevatt hoped guests garnered unique information and experiences during the tour.
“We’ve presented some the best of hay and forage operations in south Alabama, and I think many of the guests are leaving with new knowledge and ideas to apply to their research and on their farms,” Prevatt said. “There aren’t many opportunities to see this kind of production in the nation. I’m proud of what our farmers have done today and do every day.”