Meet a Faculty Member: Dr. Kim Cassida

Dr. Kim Cassida Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences assistant professor and Forage Extension Specialist.

March 22, 2017

 

Dr. Kim Cassida Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences assistant professor and Forage Extension Specialist.

Cassida’s work focuses on the conservation of forage crops that are needed to feed livestock, conserve soil, improve water quality, and are used for crop rotation and cover cropping.

Forage crops, such as hay, haylage, silage, and pasture are used to feed to livestock. They are the third most valuable agronomic crop in Michigan. According to MSU Forage Connection, forage crops encompass over 3.5 million acres of land in Michigan.

Since 2012, Cassida has worked to provide farmers with the support they need to grow forage crops. Farmers are encouraged to send in samples for Cassida and her team to test.

Another benefit of forage crops is their unique ability to build soil. As perennials, the crops stay in place for an extended amount of time, therefore allowing the soil to form. Cover crops help to contain nutrients to prevent nutrient run off.

“They make a nice cover to help protect against erosion and have a huge root system that helps hold the soil,” Cassida said.

Cover cropping short-term forage crops has been successful when used after a wheat crop comes off in mid-summer. With the growing window, forages can be grown for 60 days until they are harvested in the fall. This allows the farmer to get more haylage or hay.  This method is particularly popular among dairy farmers.

Cassida’s role has also been to educate farmers about the positive effects of forage crops. With some skepticism around cover cropping, Cassida’s responsibility is to provide factual information about cover cropping. Problems such as leaching can also be avoided with cover cropping.

“The cover crop grabs onto the nutrient and stabilizes it,” Cassida said.

Cassida works on forage variety testing in Michigan. She tests various species and varieties of forages to see if they are suitable for the Michigan climate, estimating the potential yield and the forage quality.

The forage crop specialist works with MSU Extension. She takes public calls from Michigan about farming problems. Her role is to help solve the problem or to connect the farmer with someone with more knowledge on specific problems.

Companies may enter materials into the Forage Information Systems program. The data from the private entities are then available to farmers to use to evaluate forages for their farms.

Forage Information Systems tests forages in fours sites located at MSU—Lake City Research Center, the Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center.  Cassida is currently considering an additional site in Michigan’s Thumb.

 

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