Pasture-based Beef Unit and Amazing Grazing
CEFS’ focus on efficiency of production and local food systems aims to produce more beef with fewer inputs, improving the environmental impact of beef production. For climate mitigation, CEFS studies how regenerative grazing practices result in net carbon uptake by pasture. For climate adaptation, CEFS works to develop cattle genetics that are more tolerant of hot temperatures, specifically breeding cattle expressing “Slick Hair Trait”. This genetic trait found in tropical new world breeds increases the heat tolerance of cattle and improves tolerance to fescue toxicosis.
Additionally, CEFS is developing and improving tall fescue varieties used as forages to reduce the impact of infection by toxic endophyte (common in the Southeast and Mid Atlantic). These infections are more severe in warmer weather, making the issue more prominent in a warming climate. Improved grazing systems are more resilient to both drought and flood, so our focus and training on improved grazing management makes farmers more resilient to significant weather events which are more frequent with a warming climate. For example, CEFS is studying non-toxic “Novel Endophyte Infected Tall Fescue” as new naturally-occurring biotechnology.
CEFS is also collaborating on pilot tests of carbon sequestration models currently available but not validated for the Eastern US, and has also developed precision maps of soils including nutrient levels, carbon, and biological activity across the state.
CEFS researchers are also teaching the concepts of Pastureland Ecology to livestock producers so they can develop systems that provide ecosystem services including carbon sequestration, improved water quality, and enhanced land values.