Organic dairy farming has increased rapidly in the United States (US) over the past several decades, and the viability of these operations relies on forage production. The production of high-quality, high-yielding forage crops depends on optimal forage management and resilience to increasingly unpredictable climate.
In an effort to (1) assess current forage production practices and producer knowledge gaps and (2) identify forage research and educational needs of organic dairy and forage producers across the US, a survey was developed and distributed nationally in the fall of 2021.
Production of high yield and quality forages is critical to the sustainability of organic dairy farms, especially with the ongoing erratic weather conditions. The results of this survey and the focus groups provided insights on current forage production practices and management, factors affecting forage operations, and effects of climate on forage systems. Knowledge gaps and skills needed by organic dairy and forage producers were identified and can be used for developing effective educational and outreach programs to create resilience in organic forage production. Results from these efforts identified these most critical areas of research and education: climate resilience, forage quality, economic viability, and versatile, adaptive forage options. Continuing these efforts to create and disseminate this critical information in coordination with the organic forage and dairy communities is integral to the viability of these industries into the future.