U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Agricultural Research Magazine 60(1): January 2012 pp. 22; ISSN 0002-161X


Forage kochia (Kochia prostrata) is a shrubby Asian native that has found a new home on western U.S. rangelands. And although it is not invasive, it is still sometimes more resilient than the North American native plants.

“In some rangeland soils, it’s difficult to successfully reseed with native plants,” says geneticist Blair Waldron, who works at the Agricultural Research Service’s Forage and Range Research Laboratory in Logan, Utah. “But we’ve shown that forage kochia can be established to enhance rangelands and compete with cheatgrass successfully. It can even protect against wildfires. Some people said that livestock won’t eat it, but we’ve found that cows will graze kochia—and that they even prefer it over lupine, which can be toxic to pregnant cattle.”

Waldron and his research partners have published findings that give ranchers even more reason to like the forage perennial. Their work compared how well cattle fared after two seasons of spending the fall and winter grazing on either kochia-dominated rangelands or grass-dominated rangelands.