A problem of distribution

Soil and yield testing showed shocking shortfalls in the back halves of paddocks

By Daniel Olson

So, I was sitting in my sister’s living room, admiring the newly purchased aerial photograph of their property. Their place is next to ours, so the main farm is also in the picture. You could clearly see the chicken tractors across the road, the junk pile we hide behind the barn, and the new building project.

But what really stood out were the different shades of green within our paddocks. As I looked closer, I could see that the darkest grass was always closest to the paddock gates, and it consistently lightened in direct proportion to the distance from those gates.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, and I guess I always knew that our highest productivity was toward the front of our paddocks. I decided to do some research this past summer.

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 December 2016 issue of Graze.

Getting paid to graze

Natural land care gaining popularity

By Janet McNally
One path to making a living with livestock is to be paid to graze other people’s properties. This month I’ll feature two graziers in very different parts of the country who employ goats in custom-grazing businesses.

Why goats? They are known for their ability to eat browse and weeds that cattle will not touch, and they are better browsers than sheep. Goats can be used to suppress noxious weeds and woody plants without competing directly with cattle for pasture.

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 November 2016 issue of Graze.

Does pasture diversity matter?

Allen Williams

Recent trials show it boosts production and aids health

by Allen Williams, Ph.D.

The vast majority of established pastures in the U.S. are dominated by what I would term a “near monoculture”, meaning that most of the forage yield, or biomass production, is obtained through two to three primary forages in the mix.

Natural prairies are a different story, as we see literally scores of plant species in mixes consisting of grasses, legumes and forbs. I have been on “species counts” in native prairie where experts identified more than 150 different plants, sometimes more than 200. Continue reading “Does pasture diversity matter?”

Putting some numbers to cover crop benefits

Daniel Olson in field

By Daniel Olson

Lena, Wisconsin
—The benefits of annual cover crops, such as increased organic matter, soil porosity, and nitrogen creation, are well known. Over the past few years, pioneers in this field have championed “cocktail” mixes of a wide range of species, and they have achieved amazing results.

Maybe it’s my inner researcher here, but something about cocktails has always bothered me. I think it’s the idea that it seems too easy. We plant a bunch of different things with the knowledge that something will grow and quite possibly thrive. Continue reading “Putting some numbers to cover crop benefits”

Shake up your grazing!

The ‘principle of disruption’ can keep your pastures improving

by Allen Williams, Ph.D.

Progress can be a frustrating thing.

In our search for improved soil health and forage productivity, we look to certain grazing “systems” as the key to improvement. Many of you have implemented some form of intensive grazing — management-intensive grazing (MiG), rotational grazing, mob grazing or even adaptive multi-paddock grazing — in an effort to make progress in building soil health and increasing forage productivity. Continue reading “Shake up your grazing!”

Why you might be green with envy

Cows grazing green pastures

What is your neighbor doing that you aren’t?

By Daniel Olson

Lena, Wisconsin — I know this is just a figure of speech, but there are times when your neighbor’s pastures look greener than yours. Or at least they seem to be substantially better. We all know that he isn’t smarter than you (he probably doesn’t even subscribe to this magazine) and he doesn’t work any harder (his barn lights don’t go on until 5:45 in the morning).

But there, on the other side of the fence, are some wonderfully beautiful pastures. Not only is this contrast embarrassing, it is expensive. If you are wondering how that neighbor got his pastures to grow so well, the following may include a few of his secrets. Continue reading “Why you might be green with envy”