Dennis Hancock is asking the private sector – individuals and companies – for $5,000 to help buy harvesting equipment to be used in University of Georgia (UGA) research. That’s because public sources of funding for forage research are drying up, says the UGA forage specialist.

UGA needs a plot harvester to replace one built in the 1960s. “It’s been well-maintained, but we’ve rebuilt it several times and parts are getting harder to find. It’s also poorly suited to pasture research, which is something we’re doing more of all the time,” he says.

Hancock has found a specially built harvester that another university is selling for $40,000. Comparable new units sell for around $120,000. The unit is automated, mounted on a tractor, and would enable one person to harvest several hundred plots per day. The current harvester harvests a maximum of 60 plots/day with two people operating it.

To date, Hancock and his colleagues have obtained $35,000 in funds through grants and existing research programs. Those who contribute toward the remaining $5,000 will receive recognition in UGA publications and on the UGA Forages website. Contributors of $500 or more will be recognized as “Gold Level” sponsors. “If people want to remain anonymous, we will, of course, respect those wishes as well,” says Hancock.

“Getting into this kind of fundraising effort is something I’ve resisted doing for a long time,” he says. “But whether we like it or not, we’ve reached the point where federal and state tax dollars for research are getting harder and harder to come by. Unlike some other segments of agriculture, forage crops do not have a commodity commission or checkoff support system. That means companies and individuals who benefit directly from this kind of research are going to have to step up and provide more of the funding.”

To learn more about making a tax-deductible contribution, contact Hancock at dhancock@uga.edu or 706-542-1529.

For more on efforts to increase funding for forage research, see “Experts Sound Forage-Funding Alarm” and “Alfalfa-Forage Group Returning To D.C.”