While the drought of 2012 was an extreme example of dry conditions during a growing season, it was not an anomaly, meaning producers have to be prepared to deal with periods of dry conditions as part of their annual management plans, an Ohio State University Extension specialist said.
Tips and techniques of how to do so will be discussed by experts in the field from OSU Extension and regional and national experts during a day-long conference hosted by the Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council Feb. 8.
The event is designed to help provide information for producers on how to make their pastures and forage crops more resilient and higher yielding, said Mark Sulc, an OSU Extension forage specialist.
The issue of how forage producers can cope with changing climate conditions is particularly significant considering the record extreme weather events that occurred in 2012, he said. The drought of 2012 hit many producers hard, leaving them short on hay and silage and looking for alternative forages to plant or other feed sources to make up for the shortages.
“We are still in a teachable moment,” Sulc said. “As people look back and think about what they did last year and how they might deal with extreme weather next time, we’ll offer them information on how to plan in advance for filling in the cool season grass summer slump and other periods of forage deficit with alternative forages.”
To that end, Ohio native Chris Teutsch, a forage and livestock specialist at Virginia Tech's Southern Piedmont Research and Extension Center near Blackstone, Virginia, will present, “Adapting to our Changing Climate,” which will feature management techniques that can improve pasture production by more than 33 percent while also increasing drought tolerance of pastures through a stronger plant root system.
“Dr. Teutsch will provide data on how often we experience deficit reduction because of dry weather,” Sulc said. “This is something that producers should plan on annually because deficit reduction happens more regularly than you may realize.
“While last year was an extreme example, we get periods of dry weather frequently. So we’ll talk about management plans to get through dry periods as part of producers’ overall management plan.”
Sulc will present “Alfalfa Response to Sulfur, Gypsum, and Reduced Rates of Phosphorus and Potassium,” which will include findings from a four-year study on the subject, demonstrating how important fertilization is to yield and results of responses to sulfur around the state.