Forages: Overview


Small farming enterprises have been gaining popularity as rural sprawl fosters interest in enhancing small land tract profitability. Various forage and livestock systems fit well with many small farm operations and help the small land owner maintain greenbelt exemption. Small farming systems offer a variety of profitable enterprises including cattle, equine, and small livestock (goats, sheep, swine, poultry, and exotic small livestock) enterprises, specialty hay, sod production, silvopasture, wildlife enhancement, and an integration of these practices. Forages, whether grazed, hayed, or ensiled, supply the major source of nutrition and are a critical component of many small farm enterprises.

Many small farm owners are newcomers to farming and there is a critical need to educate them in the basic agriculture practices of plant, soil, and livestock management. Extension outreach is particularly important with this group and Web-based or hard copy information is readily available from local county extension offices. Education of individuals involved in small farming enterprises is a critical link to the sustainability and profitability of this growing sector of Florida’s economy. Fostering small farming enterprises in the state should result in increased small farm profitability, enhanced rural living, and improved environmental quality.