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Breeding Better Grass For Cattle And Cars  

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Photo by Emi Kimura

Scientists in Lincoln, NE, are looking into how they can improve upon the grass cattle put in their bellies and you put in your tank. Researchers at the ARS Wheat, Sorghum, and Forage Research Center are in the midst of a 5-year project to develop best management practices for annual and perennial grasses to increase livestock production, provide biomass feed- stocks for bioenergy, and preserve and maintain America’s natural resources. Specialists in molecular biology, biochemistry, and physiology are working to develop new forage and biomass germplasm and cultivars for the switchgrass, big bluestem, and Indiangrass that are used in livestock and bioenergy production systems.

New technologies from this research, when employed on 6 million hectares in the Midwest, could produce biofuels for 15 million cars, increase beef production per hectare by 10 percent, and increase early spring forage production by enough feed for 6 million head of cattle for one month.

Explore Other Discoveries

Livestock Fight Against Wildfires

Scientists are investigating the effects of land use management practices on wildfires as part of USDA’s Long-Term Agroecosystem Research program.

Manuresheds Combat Nutrient Pollution

Promoting “manuresheds” to combat nutrient pollution while taking advantage of manure’s productive uses.

Keep Carbon In Soil, Out Of Atmosphere

Intercropping perennial herbaceous crops with trees successfully increased organic soil carbon levels.

Adjusting Cattle Grazing Schedules

Researchers discovered that sending cattle to feedlots earlier than the traditional timing of October may provide a two- fold benefit.

Better Forecasting To Help Agriculture

ARS researchers helped the United Kingdom improve the accuracy of its widely used weather-forecasting models.

Diesel Fuel Gets A Boost From Tung Oil

ARS scientists successfully used tung oil as the starting material for a new additive to improve the performance of diesel fuel.

Cover Crops Shift The Carbon Balance

Planting cover crops and not tilling the soil improves the soil’s carbon balance with minimal impact on the water balance.