ID

AREC-71NP (AREC-285NP)

Authors as Published

SHENANDOAH VALLEY

Agricultural Research and Extension Center

Agent talking with a group of farmers in a field
Grazing professionals practice finding shorts in an electric fencing system during a training at the Shenandoah Valley AREC.

With 3.2 million acres of pasture and hay land in Virginia, grasslands make up a significant part of the rural Virginia landscape and sustain the $1.13 billion-dollar grazing livestock and dairy industries in Virginia. The long-term well-being of the commonwealth relies on the profitable and ecologically-sustainable management of these lands.

While significant incentives have been developed by state and federal agencies to exclude livestock from streams and develop grazing management infrastructure, these resources are underutilized by farmers. The next generation of conservation professionals and grazing consultants in Virginia need continued training in grazing management principles to promote adoption of conservation practices.

With the support of competitive grants from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, a team led by faculty at the Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Research and Extension Center developed a four-month online training course for grassland professionals in Virginia. Over 115 professionals joined the course, which featured presentations and discussions on topics ranging from managing soil fertility to utilizing electric fence Grazing professionals practice finding shorts in an electric fencing system during a training at the Shenandoah Valley AREC.

Three dozen professionals also participated in hands-on training at several Agricultural Research and Extension Centers. The participants developed hypothetical grazing plans, worked on grazing arithmetic, and allocated fresh forage to livestock on the farm.

Terry Swecker

“Veterinary students have participated in the routine treatments, vaccinations, parasite control, pregnancy checking and records analysis for over 30 years at SVAREC. This valuable learning opportunity has been enhanced by the staff’s consistent willingness to demonstrate and discuss production agriculture and research with the students.”


DR. TERRY SWECKER
DIRECTOR, VETERINARY TEACHING HOSPITAL, VIRGINIA-MARYLAND REGIONAL COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE

Kenneth Koons

 “Historically, new technologies have been key drivers of economic as well as social and cultural change. A prime example of technical innovation as an agent of change played out at the McCormick Farm blacksmith shop where, in 1831, Cyrus McCormick invented a mechanical reaper that vastly improved efficiency in the harvesting of wheat and other cereal grains. Today, as the setting for vital research on livestock, forages, grasses, and silviculture, the McCormick Farm continues as a site of scientific discovery and innovation leading to improvements in farming.”


KENNETH E. KOONS
PROFESSOR EMERITUS, VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE

SHENANDOAH VALLEY AREC, McCORMICK FARM AT A GLANCE

A photo of the Shenandoah Valley AREC from a distance.

DISCIPLINES

  • Forestry and silvopasture
  • Pasture systems
  • Ram performance testing
  • Beef cattle production

INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES

  • Portable and fixed Calan feeding systems
  • Novel tall fescue systems
  • Temple Grandin cattle handling facility
  • Weather station with real-time weather data
  • Solar-powered SmartScales
  • Acoustic grazing detection systems

FACILITIES

  • Over 900 acres of owned and leased land
  • Three barns (bank barn, feeding barn, sheep barn)
  • A two-acre National Historic Landmark Memorial Plot, including a Grist Mill and Museum

INDUSTRY PARTNERS

  • Forage and livestock industries
  • Forestry industry

ABOUT THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY AREC, MCCORMICK FARM

The Shenandoah Valley AREC works to improve the viability of livestock, forage, and forestry production systems in Virginia and the mid-Atlantic region. In addition to our extension programs for farmers and landowners, we also seek to improve the understanding of agricultural and forestry production systems by students and other visitors to the farm. The Shenandoah Valley AREC, also known as the McCormick Farm, is the site of the development of the first mechanical reaper and is thus widely recognized as the birthplace of the modern mechanical revolution in production agriculture.

A COLLABORATIVE NETWORK

The ARECs are a network of 11 centers strategically located throughout the state that emphasize close working relationships between Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and the industries the work with. The mission of the system is to engage in innovative, leading-edge research to discover new scientific knowledge and create and disseminate science-based applications that ensure the wise use of agricultural, natural, and community resources while enhancing quality of life.

A map of Virginia with the Shenandoah Valley AREC location identified.

PARTNER WITH US

128 McCormick Farm Circle Raphine, VA 24472
(540) 377-2255
www.arec.vaes.vt.edu/arec/shenandoah-valley

logo of Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station
Logo of VCE

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is a partnership of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments. Its programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, military status, or any other basis protected by law.

Publication Date

October 5, 2022