At this Brookdale Research Field, MBFI is researching the effects of grazing on Cicer Milkvetch. This page provides information about this particular research project; including the background, objectives, and updates.
Cicer Milkvetch (Astragalus cicer L.) is a cool season, perennial legume native to Eastern Europe, which has been introduced to southern Europe, North America, and South America. Although difficult to establish, the plant is long-lived and competitive with a vigorous creeping root system. This species is not known to cause bloat, nor does it accumulate selenium as do certain native species. However, as mentioned, cicer milkvetch is competitive and can dominate pasture systems, due to its ability to outcompete grasses. It is also associated with decreased diversity. The Northwest corner of Brookdale was top-seeded with cicer milkvetch in 2004 and has since become dominated by the species.
As of August 2017- Grazing cages were moved in May to new locations prior to grazing. Initial assessments were completed prior to grazing and will be assessed again after cattle are taken off paddocks in fall.
As of March 2017-Vegetation assessments were completed on September 20, 2016, after cattle were moved off the paddocks. Since the grazing system was changed from 2015, data collected prior to this year will not be used in data analysis. New grazing system and cage locations from 2016 are shown in the new map below. Cages will be moved to new locations within paddocks prior to cattle grazing in spring 2017.
As of May 2016 - This year, forage cages have been placed on the project site. These cages allow for observations to determine the forage growth without any grazing pressure and also to determine the impact of two different grazing intensities on cicer milkvetch plants. The cattle from Pam Iwanchysko’s project, “Planned Grazing Demonstration” are seperated into two groups of cattle; a continuous grazing group and a planned grazing group. The continuous group will have access to the cicer milkvetch pastures all summer, whereas the planned grazing cattle will only start grazing that location during the last week of June 2016.
As of fall 2015 - The first year of grazing in the cicer milkvetch dominated pastures was recorded during the summer of 2015. Three sample sites in each of three fields in both the planned grazing and rotational grazing pastures were used for measurements. Baseline abundance data was collected, and the change in abundance will be monitored in subsequent years.