ROSEBURG, Ore. — Woody Lane is quick to point out that to make a profit and stay in the farming business, pasture management is key.
Speaking as president of the Oregon Forage and Grassland Council, Lane, who holds a doctorate and a master’s degree in animal nutrition from Cornell University, is passionate about the subject.
“When I came to Roseburg in 1990, we weren’t thinking about over seeding with things like improved grasses, new clovers, chicory, plantain and hybrid varieties of rape, kale and radish. We certainly were not thinking about seeding pastures for pollinators,” Lane said. “One of the great things about the OFGC is that it is well represented by seed industry members who help sponsor excellent workshops and field tours.”
OFGC was founded seven years ago to promote the usage of improved forages and increase the productivity and profitability of Oregon’s grasslands.
It also keeps its members abreast of the latest developments in all segments of forage and grassland agriculture, which includes seeding for pollinators, Lane said.
The Pastures for Pollinator program was a demonstration started in conjunction with Sujaya Rao of Oregon State University. Because more than 33 percent of the food supply comes from insect-pollinated crops, seed companies and individuals came together with donations of seed or money to help advance the program.
Tom Nichols, of Nichols Livestock Co. and an OFGC board member who raises sheep in the Brownsville-Albany area, talked about pasture management on his operation.
“I worked with some test plots when I was OSU Sheep Center manager and the sheep did love the turnips,” Nichols said. “In my own fields it is hard to manage, however. Some of my pastures have poor soils and the ones that would do well are located where they would cross-pollinate with my neighbors.”
Lane maintains that pasture management is both science and art and takes knowledge and skill.
“Well-managed means properly timed fertilizing, re-seeding and grazing, Lane said. “It also reduces feed costs because it is five to 10 times more expensive to haul the feed to the animals than if they can walk to it.”