We can be especially proud of the successful XXV International Grassland Congress (IGC) that was recently held in Covington, KY May 14-19. I say “we” because it was definitely a team effort. This Congress would not have happened without the support of many volunteers including KY county agents, KFGC members, University personnel, AFGC Executive Director Tina Bowling, and many others. Dr. Ken Quesneberry, who is a graduate from UK and has been a forage breeder at Univ. of Florida for over 40 years, said it was the best IGC he has attended. And that’s saying something since Ken has attended every Congress except one, going back to 1981 (that one was in KY too).
Over 650 people registered for the Congress from over 50 countries. There were over 400 presentations given during the weeklong event and many of the leading grassland researchers from around the world attended. The collaborations that developed at these meetings will likely lead to major innovations in forage agriculture in coming years. Here’s just one example of a breakthrough that occurred from a past IGC Congress. New Zealand researcher Garry Latch met University of Georgia researcher Joe Bouton at the 1989 Grassland Congress in Nice, France. Bouton learned about Latch’s safe endophytes and they developed a collaboration to insert these new endophytes into Bouton’s SE adapted tall fescue varieties. This collaboration led to the entire novel endophyte tall fescue industry which has provided safe and persistent tall fescue varieties for livestock producers across the US and around the world.
At the Congress Kentucky was recognized for our commitment to forages through the strong programs at UK, the Lexington USDA-ARS lab, and most importantly through the great forage producers we have in the state. Kentuckians were involved in the organization and leadership of multiple sessions including: The Dr. Norm Taylor Memorial Symposium (Dr. Taylor was the clover breeder at UK for almost 60 years), the Forage Secondary Metabolite Symposia, the Extended Grazing Symposia, the Equine Grazing Systems Symposia and more.
I especially want to thank the farm owners and farm managers who hosted mid-Congress tours in KY including: Clayton Geralds, John Seymour (Roundstone Native Seeds), Todd Clark, Brenda and Ron Paul, Dr. Greg Halich, Hanzly Albina, Tim White, Ned Toffey. In addition UK faculty and USDA-ARS scientists highlighted their research accomplishments: Dr. Laurie Lawrence, Dr. Rebecca McCulley, Dr. Hanna Poffenbarger, Dr. Don Ely, Dr. Isabelle Kagan, Dr. Brittany Davis, Dr. Jimmy Klotz, Dr. Jen Weinert-Nelson, and Dr. Alayna Jacobs.
All oral presentations at the Congress were recorded and will be available shortly to those who registered or for a small fee. The entire Proceedings containing all papers will be available in the near future. Also, mark your calendars for the 100th Anniversary of IGC in Germany June 12-19, 2027.~ Ray Smith
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