New Volume of Classic “Forages” Text Represents Iowa State Legacy

June 23rd, 2020

New edition of "Forages: The Science of Grassland Agriculture, Volume II."

By Ann Y. Robinson

A new volume of the classic textbook “Forages: The Science of Grassland Agriculture” is now available. First published by Iowa State College Press, Volume II of the 7th edition represents a legacy of ISU contributions over almost 70 years, from Harold D. Hughes to Kenneth Moore.

Kenneth Moore, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University and Pioneer Hi-Bred Professor in Agronomy, is the senior editor of the recently updated publication used as a text and reference around the world. Its other editors are Michael Collins and C. Jerry Nelson, both emeritus professors in plant sciences at the University of Missouri, and Daren D. Redfearn, associate professor of agronomy at the University of Nebraska. The editors are among 93 authors who contributed 48 chapters that provide a comprehensive look at the role of grasslands in today’s changing agricultural systems.

Kenneth Moore. 

“‘Forages’ represents more than just a book to those of us who have dedicated our careers to understanding and improving forage production and utilization,” said Moore. “It is a history of our discipline and provides a growing base of knowledge that forms our thinking as we approach the future. I first encountered the book early in graduate school when it was assigned as required reading for a course. The authors still stand as giants to me, and I can vividly recall several of the chapters.” 

The lead author and editor of the original 1951 edition of “Forages,” was Harold D. Hughes, a professor of agronomy at Iowa State from 1910 until his retirement in 1946. A popular professor, Hughes was also senior author of the earlier textbook “Crop Production,” used in agronomy courses for many decades.

“Hughes had lasting influence in shaping not only future editions of ‘Forages,’ but the future of grassland science,” according to Moore. “He lived during and contributed to the many advances that revolutionized agriculture in the last century, including the transition from draft animals to mechanized agriculture, development and release of improved hybrids, the development and use of commercial fertilizers, and later, the introduction of pesticides. During all of this he was a leader in training the next generations of agronomists.”

Moore was never a student at Iowa State, and, had he been, he would have missed Hughes’ classes by decades. Even so, Hughes’ writings have exerted a long-time influence on Moore’s career. 

“There exists among grassland scientists a shared philosophy, which, if it did not begin with the first edition of Forages, was clearly articulated and embodied there,” said Moore. “It speaks to the conservation ethic, emphasizing the role of perennial forages in conserving and improving soil. By its very nature grassland science recognizes the complexity, interrelationships and economic realities of agricultural systems. It is our hope that this philosophy lives on in this new edition and will inspire the next generation of grassland scientists.”

Forages Volume II: The Science of Grassland Agriculture” (7th edition) is published by the Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Company. Moore is also co-editor of the 7th edition’s “Volume 1: An Introduction to Grassland Agriculture published in 2017, and served as a co-editor of the 6th edition’s two volumes and the 5th edition’s CD ROM companion.

Harold D. Hughes 

The new, seventh edition of “Forages” Volume II offers a moving dedication from Hughes’ first edition of “Forages,” honoring the memory of three more recent crop scientists and educators who made significant contributions to earlier versions of the textbook. Two were faculty at Iowa State: Steven L. Fales, who chaired the Agronomy Department from 2001-2005 and served as associate director of ISU’s Office of Biorenewable Programs, and Walt F. Wedin, an agronomy faculty member from 1961-91 and first director of the World Food Institute from 1973-77. Wedin’s son David co-authored the new volume’s chapter on nutrient cycling in forage production systems. The other dedication is to Lowell E. Moser, a long-time faculty member at the University of Nebraska. 

In 1957, professor Hughes, a former president of the American Society of Agronomy, was invited to address the organization’s 50th annual meeting. In his speech, “A Half-Century in Crop Production Research,” he sought to explain the remarkable achievements made in agronomic science:

It has been pointed out that historically Americans have been highly individualistic. However, recognition of the benefits derived from an interchange of ideas and materials and the highly developed sense of service and duty have gone far in breaking down some of the inhibitions of our individualistic beginnings. Cooperation cannot be legislated or forced; it can come only through a will to cooperate. Individual initiative and desire in a successful research program is important. It must be recognized that most of our total advance comes from small contributions by a host of minor workers. It is the working together that counts. Effective team play is just as valuable as individual genius. Only in a group attack can we produce significant results. Also, free intercourse and exchange of ideas and materials beget widespread personal friendships and satisfactions.

“Perhaps this is his greatest legacy,” Moore said. “By engaging so many current and future scientists in the writing of a book, he established a community that transcends time and place.”


Kenneth Moore,, conducts research on the development and improvement of biomass crops and cropping systems at Iowa State when he’s not writing and editing textbooks. He served as project director for the USDA-NIFA-CAP project CenUSA/Sustainable Production and Distribution of Bioenergy for the Central USA, and helped found and develop ISU’s Master of Science in Agronomy distance education program.

Ann Robinson,, is a communications specialist for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service.