NBCI has used the recent drought to work with agricultural interests in Washington and beyond to give serious consideration to the use of drought-tolerant, warm-season native grasses in livestock operations. An increasing number of agricultural interests, including publications, are picking up on the value of native grasses for livestock producers … and wildlife. Here’s another story from the Southeast Farm Press, this one regarding the value of native grasses in Alabama:
“A strange thing happened on the way toward settling North America. The cattle first brought to this continent centuries ago quickly eliminated native grass stands through overgrazing, leaving European settlers scrambling for transplanted grasses and clover.
“Consequently, those pastureland grasses we typically assume are as American as apple pie — bermudagrass and Kentucky bluegrass, for example — aren’t.
“We regularly plant 50 to 60 forage species, and hardly any of these are native grasses,” says Don Ball, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System forage specialist and Auburn University professor of agronomy and soils.
“Bermudagrass presumably first arrived in cattle feed brought over by Fernando de Soto. By the 19thcentury, it was being used as both a pasture grass and as a way to reduce soil erosion.
“Likewise, Kentucky bluegrass is anything but Kentuckian. It grew in Europe and Africa before it was brought to North America by early settlers.”