Experimental Design : Six farms will be selected for detailed measurements of botanical composition (in different regions of the state-Eastern, Central, and Western (west of 1-65). On each farm at least one pasture will be selected for monitoring. A mini-weather station will be established at each of the 6 farm locations to determine temperature and precipitation throughout the year. Other measurements that may be taken include photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), soil temperature-, and relative humidity. Climatic measurements will be compared to botanical composition and biomass accumulation to determine the possible relationship. Botanical measurements will occur every year for four years using the step point or line intercept method with samples taken spring and summer (eg. April/May, July/August). The April/May sampling will determine the base tall fescue and other cool season species composition and the July/Aug sampling will show the potential encroachment of warm season annuals and perennials. At each sampling date a rising plate meter will be used to estimate forage biomass accumulation and forage quality will be determined. Endophyte infection levels in tall fescue will be determined in early May and ergovaline will be measured at both the May and July sampling dates and again in October.
Compare Canopea with the point quad rat method. The commercially available digital image analysis project Canopea will be compared to the photographic point quad rat method developed by Dr. Ed Rayburn at West Virginia University. This comparison will be particularly useful for the November sampling date, because Cano pea's accurate "Green vs. Brown" contrast will identify the dormant warm season grass species in comparison to tall fescue and other cool season species.