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Management-Intensive Grazing: Management of Forage Supply

Irrigation Management

The most limiting factor in a stable and predictable forage supply is the availability of sufficient soil moisture to promote forage growth. For many "grass-farmers", drought is the single greatest production risk. Irrigation, however, is expensive, energy- and labor-intensive, and, therefore, not feasible in most MIG systems. However, there are some enterprises where irrigation is critical. For example, MIG-based dairy production systems require an irrigation system so that a steady, reliable forage supply is produced. This is crucial in dairy production because if a dairy cow's production declines because of low forage supply or poor forage quality, her previous level of productivity is not recoverable.

Unfortunately, research data on irrigated pasture in Georgia is currently too sparse to provide accurate algorithms for irrigation scheduling.  Research has been initiated on two grazing dairies in S. Georgia to develop such irrigation management protocols. For more information on irrigation management, visit the "Irrigation Best Management Practices" Web site.