Adapting to climate change, improving the sustainability of grazing systems and improving water quality in Tennessee
Walker, F. R., and P. D. Keyser.  2018.  Proceedings of 2018 Tennessee Water Resources Symposium.

The livestock industry is very valuable to Tennessee agriculture and the rural economy. Beef cattle production has historically been the backbone of this industry with a most, if not all, production on pastures. Pastures have a significant impact on the agricultural landscape in Tennessee and water quality. Traditionally the forage base has been dominated by cool-season grasses such tall fescue and orchard grass. In recent years, Tennessee has been experiencing more variable rain distribution patterns, with more floods and periodic dry periods, or even droughts during the summer months. This has impacted the beef industry in many ways. The University of Tennessee (UT) Extension and other partners are working to diversify the foragebase of our pasture systems in Tennessee. Work at the University of Tennessee has demonstrated that the inclusion of native warm season grasses (NWSG), such as Eastern gamma grass, Big Blue Stem, Little Blue stem and Indian grass into our forage systems, not only will provide livestock with a valuable forage during the warm summer months, but also be an effective tool in managing forages during periodic dry periods and even drought. During intense summer rainfall events, the greater infiltration rates observed under NWSG systems greatly reduces the amount of runoff and thus soil erosion, the potential for local floods, and is another best management practice (BMP) for improving water quality and mitigating against the potential harmful effects of climate change in Tennessee. This presentation will summarize some of the on-going work at UT on promoting these systems in Tennessee. This work is in part supported by a USDA NIFA Water for Agriculture grant awarded to the University of Tennessee in collaboration with Tennessee Technological University, University of Memphis, Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee at Martin to study the effects that climate change may have on agricultural production in the Tennessee and Cumberland River Basins in the coming decades