Taking research with a grain of salt

Allen Williams

All of it is anecdotal

By Allen Williams

The British statistician George E. P. Box stated that “All models are wrong, but some are useful.”

This has become an oft-quoted statement in scientific circles. Box was referring to the fact that in science there is a growing trend to develop theoretical models with the purpose of predicting some type of behavior or outcome based on data assumptions used in the model.

While no model can predict the exact outcome of any singular event, models can be useful if the assumptions are good and the output is close enough.

Having been a scientist and a farmer for more than 30 years now, I often hear people talk about “anecdotal” research or data. Their point is that if the research was not peer-reviewed and published, it has no value. This is particularly insinuated with observational data.

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Ten tips for summer grazing success

Planning, observation and keeping soil cool are among the priorities

By Allen Williams

By the time you read this we will be fully into summer 2020, and full bore into the grazing season. Many of us had a cool spring season, but who knows what’s to come?

Here are my “Top 10 Tips” for grazing success, no matter what the weather throws at us. The first two offer advice for spring planning and grazing, so save those for next year’s planning.

Thank you for visiting the Graze magazine website. We offer a few sample articles online, but to see the full content, order a subscription of the print magazine or order the specific back issue you are interested in. This article appeared in the June-July 2020 issue of Graze.

Weak links

Food system’s weaknesses show need for something better

By Allen Williams
The Covid-19 pandemic has created significant upheaval across the world, and certainly right here in the U.S.

With the shelter-in-place orders, restaurants closing to inside dining, and schools and universities shutting down in-person education, the impact on agriculture and the food industries has been monumental.

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Managing the rank growth of summer

Grazing sheep

By Janet McNally
Hinckley, Minnesota—
Years ago I was interested in trying mob-stock grazing that uses higher stocking densities and daily moves.

What held me back was knowing that at some point in early June we would face a tremendous amount of rank growth going to seed and no longer nutritious.

My approach at the time was to have sheep covering every acre in late-May/early-June, biting each plant in an effort to control growth and seedheads. Continue reading “Managing the rank growth of summer”

Following the circle of life

Successful graziers must leave linear thinking behind

By Allen Williams and Russ Conser

Lion King, as with all Disney movies, has a great plot and some catchy tunes, but also a deeper moral to the story. In this case it is about the “circle of life.”

Circles have no beginning or end. If we start anywhere on a circle and follow it around, we end up in loop coming back to where we started. The Lion King circle was about the big loop of life and death.

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Keeping a farm in the family

Family in front of barn

Corse family using grazing to maintain 152-year legacy

By Martha Hoffman
Whitingham, Vermont
— For the past 152 years the Corse family has milked cows in south central Vermont.

Today, Leon Corse, his wife, Linda, and their adult daughter, Abbie, are doing their best to continue that legacy with organic-certified management tailored to their farm. And they’re helping others begin their own legacies through participation in the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, a program aiming to bring new dairy farmers into the industry.

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