Capturing Sunlight

Woody Lane


There is magic in forages. The magic of sunlight and green leaves, and the miracle of photosynthesis. It’s the magic of legumes that pull nitrogen from the air to make proteins, of roots interacting with the soil, of plants capturing and storing carbon, and of the vast array of forages that contain the protein, fiber, and starch upon which livestock depend. Sure, we can stand in awe of forages and speak glowingly about them. It certainly seems like magic, in a poetic sense. But making this magic work for us is a challenge. We must develop the skills and knowledge to grow and harvest forages effectively and sustainably.

This book offers a distillation of that knowledge to anyone interested in the modern concepts of grazing—and especially to the grazier who raises livestock on forages.This is not a dry textbook or a collection of homey anecdotes or an it-worked-for-me magazine article. Rather, here we get under the hood with down-to-earth essays on the practical skills and the underlying science. With a bit of humor now and then.

In these pages you’ll find no-nonsense science—the chemistry and physiology of growing plants, the dark and hidden qualities of soil, the modern methods for describing fiber, the nutritional value of forages, and the principles of storing hay and silage. You’ll learn how to look at a pasture and know when to open the gate and what happens to forages during grazing. You’ll learn about renovating pastures, starting grazing systems from scratch, and making sound business decisions in grazing operations. These principles apply to farms and ranches that raise any grazing livestock: beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, goats, bison, and horses. These sixty-two chapters are on topics that should interest any forage manager: grazing techniques, soil fertility, pasture renovation, forage quality, hay and silage storage, and the business of grazing animals. Even a chapter on the forage nutrition of dinosaurs, should that ever be necessary.

The last section of this book is unusual. It’s a practical, in-depth handbook on intensive grazing systems. In it, I systematically outline the skills of Management Intensive Grazing—one of the most intelligent and efficient ways ever devised for managing improved pastures.These pages might not be filled with the chants and bubbling cauldrons of mystical wizards, but they will open doors to a wizardly world of forage skills. You’ll gain knowledge that will enrich your days and help you make good decisions about your farm or ranch. Even if you’re not a grazier, this book will stay with you long after you finish reading it. And you’ll never again drive past a pasture without seeing it in a different light.

Copyright 2020, softcover, 334 pages.

About the Author:

Woody Lane is a nationally-known livestock nutritionist and forage specialist living in Roseburg, Oregon. Since moving to Oregon in 1990, he has owned and operated Lane Livestock Services, an independent consulting firm. Woody provides technical advice to farms, ranches and all types of agricultural businesses and agencies. He earned his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Animal Nutrition at Cornell University. Woody has published hundreds of popular articles and fact sheets on sheep and cattle production and more than 25 research articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals.


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