August pasture walks to showcase native grass projects

  • Published: Wednesday, July 21, 2021

GALENA, Mo. – University of Missouri Extension will hold a pasture walk of two successful native grass projects in Barry County 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10.

Richard Asbill of Cassville and Gene Cowherd of Butterfield were among the first participants in the NRCS + MU Grasslands Project.

The project is a collaboration between the University of Missouri and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Twelve farms in six counties participate in this project, established in 2017, along with other demonstrations funded by the MU/MDC Native Grass Project.

Asbill and Cowherd worked with MU Extension agronomist Tim Schnakenberg to successfully establish native grasses on their farms beginning in 2019. Heat- and drought-tolerant warm-season native grasses provide forage for cattle, especially during the summer slump when temperatures rise, rainfall diminishes and cool-season pastures wane.

Asbill seeded one grazing paddock to warm-season grasses in the first year. His first-year establishment was tall and lush. The bunch-type habitat and undergrowth provide cover for quail and other wildlife.

Gene Cowherd of WindyMonte Farm in Butterfield will show pastures and hayfields he has planted with big bluestem and Indian grass. He started with 11 acres in 2019. He added 25 acres of big blue, Indian grass and a small amount of little bluestem in 2020 and has an additional 20 acres planted in 2021.

During the tour, Schnakenberg and others will talk about how to convert to warm-season grasses in small increments. They’ll cover other benefits such as lower nutrient needs, reduced endophyte exposure and improved summer grazing. They’ll also cover management practices that differ from those used for fescue, Missouri’s most common grass.

Asbill and Cowherd will tell how they learned to calibrate drills for the best stands. Because big bluestem, little bluestem and Indian grass seed is light and fluffy, it makes travel from the seed box to the soil challenging. They also will talk about how they have successfully managed weeds.

For more information, visit the NRCS + MU Grasslands Project website at or contact your local extension agronomist. A meal will be provided.

To register for the tour, get directions and reserve your meal, contact MU Extension in Barry County at 417-847-3161 or [email protected] by Aug. 5.

A downloadable flyer is available at

Gene Cowherd, left, and MU Extension agronomist Tim Schnakenberg at Cowherd’s farm in Butterfield, Mo. Cowherd will show his pastures during an Aug. 10 native warm-season grass tour sponsored by MU Extension. He started with 11 acres in 2019 and added 25 more acres in 2020. Photo by Linda Geist.

Writer: Linda Geist

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