Extension Programs

The MU Forage-Livestock Group implements multi-stakeholder programs across the state of Missouri. Cooperating stakeholders include progressive producers, government agencies, private companies, nonprofit groups, and other land-grant universities. Below are some of these programs.

This program teaches management-intensive grazing (MiG), which subdivides large fields into smaller paddocks then rotates livestock across paddocks. The program is delivered in 2- and 3-day schools that are held during the growing season (April to October) throughout Missouri, including at MU outlying centers. School instructors in MU Extension are regional specialists in Agronomy, Livestock, and Ag Business. They pair up with colleagues in NRCS, who teach fencing and watering systems as well as design of grazing systems. In 2018, impact of the grazing school program was $125 million annual to the state economy. For more information regarding impact, view the online pdf.

University of Missouri has been actively involved in guiding the evolution of pasture-based dairying in Missouri in recent years. These new dairy systems use minimal concentrate feeding, optimal grass management and highly labor efficient parlors.

The grazing wedge is a tool for managing forage in grazing systems. It visually represents the quantity of forage dry matter available per acre or hectare at a single point in time. When used over time, it calculates pasture growth rates and cumulative forage production in the grazing system. The grazing wedge enables beef and dairy producers to make forage management decisions that align to their production goals. Users can set up an account, input farm and paddock data, and track other information they can use to improve grazing management.

Losses from weed and brush infestations on grazing lands in the U.S. have been estimated conservatively at $2 billion per year. In Missouri alone, grazing lands occupy about 13 million acres, more than the combined acreage of corn and soybean. This program teaches how weeds can reduce pasture production directly through competition and by interfering with grazing or indirectly by lowering the quality of the forage. This program is delivered through the Missouri Grazing Schools, through the Weed and Brush Control Guide for Pastures (MU Extension Publication IPM1031), and through websites and social media (Facebook: Mizzou Weed Science; Twitter: ShowMeWeeds).

University-operated soil and plant testing laboratories provide reliable, unbiased, research-based soil test interpretations and nutrient management recommendations to the public. The MU program provides a key point of engagement with more than 35,000 Missourians each year. The labs link the knowledge created by soil scientists at University of Missouri to the citizens that use the knowledge and apply fertilizer and lime to optimize production without polluting the environment. State and federal agencies require their clients to use University of Missouri soil test recommendations to qualify for cost-share programs and nutrient management planning.

This program teaches how to replace toxic tall fescue with fescue cultivars that host novel endophytes. Novel endophtyes are strains of endophyte that produce little or no ergot alkaloids; they are inserted into endophyte-free tall fescue to improve field persistence. The program is delivered through the Alliance for Grassland Renewal, a nonprofit organization formed in 2012 to 1) deliver instruction and 2) monitor seed quality of novel endophytes. At present, the Alliance membership contains 4 land grant universities, NRCS, innovative farmers, nonprofit groups, and 7 private companies; these 7 include all companies, domestic and international, who own novel endophyte technology. Impact is currently being quantified.

This is a new, interagency program that designs grazing systems, establishes native warm-season grasses (NWSG), measures forage quality from NWSG, and monitors sites for soil health parameters. The work involves 8 teams of colleagues from MU Extension and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).