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By Brandon Moseley

On Wednesday, Oct. 14, the Alabama Cooperate Extension Service announced that the Alabama Forage Conference will return this year as a three-day event and will be held in Russellville Dec. 1-3.

The conference is held every two years. This year’s conference will be at the A.W. Todd Centre.

Forages are a huge current topic for farmers and ranchers because grain prices have tended to be up over the last two years. It is hard to buy feed in a sack and feed it to cows, sheep, goats, or horses and the animals profitably turn that nutrition into meat and milk. Increasing the forage quality and quantity on the farm and extending the grazing season allows farmers to produce their own nutrition for their animals without being as dependent on the feed store.

Good forage management can increase sale weights, improve reproductive performance, increase animal longevity, improve wildlife habitat, and farm profitability.

Leanne Dillard is a forage specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

Dillard said this year’s expanded conference combines talks and panel discussions with demonstrations and a tour.

“The first day offers demonstrations where farmers will get practical, research-based recommendations to enhance their forage operations,” Dillard said. “Dec. 2 will be a full day with talks including sessions on tall fescue and bahiagrass management, among others.”

Dillard said that the conference will host many speakers that will discuss topics important to improving forage production.

“Forages are big business in Alabama so it’s vital we help producers improve their operations,” Dillard said. “In 2020, 750,000 acres were harvested for forages in the state with a value of more than $218 million.”

The exhibition will open on Dec. 1 at noon.

Demonstrations include:

Farmers and ranchers will hear from a number of speakers during the main portion of the conference. The Dec. 2 featured speakers include Gary Bates, University of Tennessee, discussing tall fescue management and Marcelo Wallau, University of Florida, speaking about bahiagrass for north Alabama. Other topics include fire ant management, cover crop grazing, forage variety trials and pasture-based heifer development.

“The conference is a great opportunity for producers to interact with Extension agents and industry professionals alike,” Dillard said.

On Dec. 3, Alabama Extension professionals will lead participants on a pasture walk at a farm near Russellville.

This meeting is a hybrid meeting. In-person registration for all three events is $65. For the virtual meeting, the cost is $35 and is presented via Zoom. To register or for more information about the 2021 Alabama Forage Conference, visit www.aces.edu/go/forageconference.

People can also contact Dillard at alabamaforages@auburn.edu.

Based on original reporting by the Extension Service’s Maggie Lawrence.

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