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Fifty Years of Grassland Science Leading to Change


This article in CS

  1. Vol. 46 No. 5, p. 2204-2217
    Received: May 18, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): nelsoncj@missouri.edu
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  1. C. Jerry Nelson *a and
  2. J. C. Burnsb
  1. a Dep. of Agronomy, Univ. of Missouri-Columbia, MO 65211
    b USDA-ARS and Dep. of Crop Science and Dep. of Animal Science, North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC 27695


Division C-6 was established in 2000, but members associated with forages and grazinglands have been active in the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) since its inception; 21 have served as President and many authored textbooks and comprehensive reference works. Complex forage and pasture mixtures were common in 1955, but shifted to monocultures in the 1960s and 1970s. Mixtures returned in the 1980s as N prices increased, broader values of legumes became known, nutritive value was better understood, and environmental issues increased. Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) for dairy production had strong leadership from the private sector in seed production and breeding. Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) was well-adapted, conserved soil, and extended grazing in the transition zone to increase beef cow–calf production. Bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] benefited from vegetative propagation, conserved soil, and was improved for adaptation, yield, and nutritive value. Yield advancements, except for a few species, have been discouraging. Management benefited from advances in disease resistance, methods for assessing nutritive value, and understanding the role of endophytic fungi. Modest increases in nutritive value, coupled with improved pasture management, have increased animal performance. Emerging interests include biomass, carbon sequestration, and roles of biodiversity. Molecular techniques offer potential to better understand the plants and make genetic progress.

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Copyright © 2006. Crop Science Society of AmericaCrop Science Society of America