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Forage specialist Peterson joins Extension Staff

By Stewart MacInnis

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 18 - January 30, 1997

A forage specialist from Canada's McGill University will take up duties at Virginia Tech as the forage specialist for Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Paul R. Peterson, a native of Madison, Wis., will fill a position that is important to Virginia's livestock industries, said Jack Hall, head of the Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences department at Virginia Tech. Peterson is scheduled to assume his duties January 15.

"He is filling a position that has been vacant for two years," Hall said. "We're looking forward to his arrival, because with the retirements of Harlan White and Dale Wolf, the department has formally been without any forage specialist at all for the last year."

Though he will be based at Virginia Tech's campus, Peterson will work with producers throughout the state. With more than a million acres in pasturage in Virginia, forage is a vital part of the state's beef-cattle, dairy, horse, sheep, and other grazing-animal industries.

"One of the strengths Dr. Peterson brings to this position is his experience with animals," Hall said. "He's not just an agronomist. His ample experience and understanding of animal-plant interactions will be an important asset for the state."

Hall said Peterson will conduct research into intensive grazing management and pasture renovation; he will develop a test demonstration program; and he will be involved with the Virginia Forage and Grassland Council.

His previous experience researching renovation of pastures with kura clover may have application for Virginia's pasture-renovation efforts, Hall said. The primary focus of his previous research has been the integration of forages and livestock into sustainable grazing systems.

Peterson earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Minnesota-St. Paul. He worked at the Forage Systems Research Center at the University of Missouri before becoming an assistant professor at the Macdonald Campus of McGill University. That campus is located at Ste-Anne De Bellevue, Québec, not far from Montreal.

Virginia Cooperative Extension, a part of Virginia Tech and Virginia State universities, provides scientific information that citizens can use to improve their lives at work and home. Extension is a cooperative effort of local governments, state government, the land-grant universities, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.