Agronomic management of pastures to improve utilization

Project Facts

Payment Mechanisms / Support

UCR: University of Costa Rica
FITTACORI: Fundación para la Investigación y Transferencia y Tecnología Agropecuaria de Costa Rica
MAG: Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería

Costa Rica
Latin America
Costa Rica: San Carlos y Turrialba

Luis A. Villalobos V, UCR-CINA

Case overview/description

Main Challenges
Restoring grassland
Starting point/ Challenges

In the tropics, the yield of cultivated pastures can be higher than in temperate zones. The agronomic management has been focused on the carrying capacity of pastures through high fertilization rates. Both situations foster high residue  (senescent material) in pastures, which is not grazed due to the poor nutritional value and thereby reducing the voluntary intake in pastures.

Purpose/ Objectives addressed, Results expected

Estimate the yield, nutritional value and morphological traits of tropical pastures under different treatments (agronomic practices) aiming to reduce the amount of non-utilizable biomass in pastures.
This proposal aims to assess how the grazing efficiency can be increased.
One of the outputs expected from this project is to recommend producers how often they need to apply these practices as well as adjusting stocking rates.

Type of Case
Agroecological zone
Humid (> 270 LGP)
Exploring potentials / Specific Payments

State and private funding options are being reached

Land area size (km2)
One million hectares in pastures distributed in 26516 farms where about half have improved pastures in Costa Rica.
Number of people
distributed in 26516 farms where about half have improved pastures in Costa Rica.
Land ownership
Livestock system
Livestock Type
Comment livestock systems

Bovine: Jersey, Holstein, multiple breeds in beef (Brahman, Nelore, Simmental, etc)

Operating environment

Beef: auctioning  Dairy: industry

Participants in the case/project

Producers, dairy companies and Ministry of Agriculture

Methods / Approaches applied to reach objectives

Small plots within paddocks with further evaluation in larger scale to evaluated grazing efficiency

Outcome/ Beneficiaries/ Issues

Sustainability regarding economic issues

Higher utilization of pastures may allow reduce the use of feedstuff (imported in our conditions)

Sustainability regarding social issues

Small producers are more sensitive to increases in commodities as they own less animals than bigger operations.

Sustainability regarding ecological issues

Carbon footprint lower in farms that rely more on pastures.

Knowledge Exchange

Through extension talks with producers and technicians

Key Conflicts / Problems

Difficult to monitor state of pastures is a general issue on farms.

Lessons learnt

Ongoing project.

Research Gaps



Tropical pastures, senescent material, utilization.