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To Pastures and Beyond

John Lory’s ‘Skylab’ looks to the future of forage management.

It looks like something from a science fiction tale or an other-world exploration unit. Instead, it is one of the latest pieces of equipment University of Missouri researchers use to study pastures.

“We call it Skylab,” said John Lory, associate professor of plant sciences at the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. “It is a research tool that gives us a leg up on past technologies to easily test forages and how nitrogen can affect plant growth.”

In the spring of 2013, Lory began to assemble different sensors on a highboy tractor thanks to a grant from the Natural Resource Conservation Service and support from the MU Division of Plant Sciences. The machine with 6 feet of ground clearance is more commonly used for spraying crops, but Lory is looking to do spatial management studies of pastures at CAFNR’s Forage Systems Research Center in Linneus to give Missouri farmers a better understanding about what is going on in their pastures.

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