Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Last week the Ohio Forages and Grassland Council (OFGC) held their Annual Conference at the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The program covered topics including research into the value of irrigating pasture, the benefits of reduced lignin alfalfa in increasing digestibility and the use of nitrogen inhibitors in pasture.All of the components of the program were to help attendees piece together a plan for better managing their pastures in the future.“A long time ago, 99% of farms were actively grazing, even up in my neighborhood in northwest Ohio. Now it is predominantly corn and soybeans road to road. But at one time everybody had grazing,” said Gary Wilson from Hancock County, with the OFGC. “As economic conditions become harder, doesn’t it make sense to have animals do the work and the harvesting? The problem is that a lot of the experience and intellect to take care of animals has left with the previous generations, but we are learning more and there is a tremendous future. There are a lot of acres under grass in Ohio. Forages and grazing have a strong history and strong future.”With improved research into forage blends and management techniques and the use of technology, the grazing season can extend through much of the year, or all year.“There are opportunities with better yields and better quality. There is a lot of research about how you can go into winter with grazing,” Wilson said. “Anyone who has been grazing stockpiled forages has been doing well this winter and you are not using stored feeds that have a lot more cost because of the harvesting equipment and labor to get those crops off.”There are benefits, but successful intensive grazing efforts must be carefully managed.“Every day you have to manage it. A lot of people I work with want me to give them a cookie cutter method to do it this way and you’ll be good for this year. Every day you have to think about when you should turn them into a new pasture, when you should take them out of the old pastures. The problem we have in the spring is that we have more forages than livestock, and then in the summer we have the opposite — we have too much livestock and not enough forage. We have to take the extremes out of this equation. We can do that with management,” Wilson said. “You have to think through that because it involves your resources, different species, your soil type and many other factors. It takes planning and every day you have to think about what you want to do.”The OFGC also presented awards at the event, including the Bob Evans Leadership Award to Bill Dix and Stacy Hall, the Outstanding Producer Award to Scott Myers, Woodlyn Acres Farm, and the Jack Tucker Distinguished Service Award to Dan Fullenkamp.