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Collect More Sunshine to Grow More Grass

By   /  February 8, 2021  /  6 Comments

ALERT: It’s science time again and we’re going to show you what you need to know to use your livestock to manage your pasture solar collectors so they’re always catching the maximum amount of sunlight.

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This beautiful shot is provided to us by the GrassWhisperer, Troy Bishopp. You really should click o
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About the author

Ed is the Forage Extension Specialist at West Virginia University. He works with other specialists, county agents, farmers, and NRCS staff in developing and implementing on-farm research and educational programs to support pasture-based livestock production and helps landowners develop economically and environmentally sustainable production systems on their farms. He was technical editor for the four volume NRAES book series on pasture-based livestock production. He previously worked for the USDA-Soil Conservation Service in western New York as a Grassland Specialist serving dairy and livestock producers in the 15 western counties of New York. Ed, his wife Sue, their three border collies, and 30 cows manage a pasture-based farm in Preston County West Virginia


  1. Sarah Chabot says:


    I couldn’t get my fields grazed this spring, so the grass has all gone to seed. Fescue and white clover. (Today is June 3, 2013). I would really like to know if I should bush hog all of it now. If that would let it go to leaf again, ad a little material to the soil, or because the dormant time is coming, if it wouldn’t help. I’m still hoping to get enough cattle on to graze this summer. There is a small herd that I’m moving around, but they don’t seem to find this seeded grass palatable.

    Thanks for any help,

    Sarah in Blacksburg, VA

    • Ed Rayburn says:


      Sorry to be so long replying but I have been out of the office most of the month.

      I the case you describe I think bushhogging is a good option. It will stimulate regrowth, the thatch will insulate the soil and feed the soil bugs, and allow light to get back to the legumes. Cattle do a better job but sometimes we just don’t have them where and when we need them.


  2. Andrew says:

    Thanks Ed, that’s helpful and I look forward to you next articles!


  3. Andrew says:


    Thanks for writing this, it is a great help. One question I had was what you mean by “grass head” in the 7th paragraph. Are you referring to a seed head or the handful of grass plant leaves that tend to poke up higher than others, or something else altogether? And what is it exactly that causes the tillering?

    Thanks so much for contributing to this great new grazing resource!


    • Ed Rayburn says:


      Yes, I was referring to the seed head.

      I will address your tiller question in our next series of articles on plant “morphology”. That is the fancy way of saying “what does the plant look like”.

      Thank you for your comments and questions.


  4. Troy Bishopp says:

    That picture of the grass is really great when you blow it up. Thanks KV. And good article Ed, even though I’m not exactly following the science and am still learning all the site specific nuances of grazing management. This early season grazing is a complex beast and finding balance with the plants, animals and wallets is always a challenge. I always wonder if I’m doing the right thing. GW

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