Pastures:  ATTRA                                Sustainable Management   A Publication of ATTRA - National Sustainable Agr...
In the not-too-distant      fertility requirements than do most dair-                                                     ...
The animals do not return to a paddock GOAL OF GOOD GRAZING                             until the plants have recovered an...
Many grazing managers—or graziers—claim          becomes more diverse under this type of                       that contro...
Good fertility management includes a regu-        by the lab. For example, a recommenda-lar walk through the paddocks to m...
lush, and healthy pasture. Such pasture         Another excellent resource to understand                           provide...
worms in a shovelful of soil is an easy way      have been planted.) Annual legumes thatfor farmers to monitor soil health...
Conserved Forages vs.                                                                              Grazing                ...
some costs through contractual arrange-              • fertilityments among themselves. The amount of                • irr...
heavy irrigation can leach nutrients into the     Understanding the basics of soil-water                       groundwater...
Species diversity is also important, as was       excellent sources of information for anyonediscussed in detail earlier. ...
of this cropping system is a high quality pas-      However, for the producer who wishes to                        ture th...
growth. Hitting the pastures too hard too         Sustaining Excellent Pasturesearly can impede the system’s ability to   ...
quency of moves, forage residual, and plant        animals, and the plants can be useful later                           r...
Related ATTRA Publications Rotational Grazing                                    Meeting the Nutritional Needs of Ruminant...
Resources                                                   Web sites also provide information useful to graziers.        ...
Hodgson, John. 1990. Grazing Management: Science       Savory, Allan, and Jody Butterfield. 1999. Holisticinto Practice. Lo...
University of Wisconsin Forage and Extension Links             AgriMet is a network of more than 90
Pastures: Sustainable Management
Pastures: Sustainable Management
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Pastures: Sustainable Management

  1. 1. Pastures: ATTRA Sustainable Management A Publication of ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service • 1-800-346-9140 • www.attra.ncat.orgBy Alice Beetz and Well-managed forage systems contribute significantly to the sustainability of a farm/ranch operation. ThisLee Rinehart publication addresses numerous aspects of sustainable pasture integration, grazing rotation strategies,NCAT Agriculture and management options. It covers: grazing systems, pasture fertility, changes in the plant communitySpecialists through grazing, weed control, and pasture maintenance. It also discusses planning and goal-setting,© 2006 NCAT and offers an appendix item on trees in pasture settings.ContentsIntroduction .................... 1Considerations forIrrigated Pasture Systemsin the Western U.S. ........ 9Summary ........................ 13References ...................... 15Resources ....................... 16Appendix: Trees inPasture Systems ........... 18 NCAT photo. Introduction cycles of annual weeds and other M crop pests are interrupted during anagement is the key to healthy, pro- ductive pastures. Controlled, rota- the pasture years of the rotation. tional, or management-intensive • Soil health improves as the content grazing has increased forage production for of organic matter increases under many producers. Skillfully using livestock to good grazing management. harvest forages leads to improved soil fertil- ity, a diverse, dense, and useful pasture ecol- • Soil structure improves over time ogy, and an extended grazing season. Fertile as compaction and hardpan is soil and productive pastures, in turn, support reduced. healthy animals. • Ruminants (cattle, sheep, deer, Well-managed forage systems contribute goats) thrive in a better balanced to an operation’s sustainability in several agro-ecosystem and produce milk,ATTRA–National Sustainable important ways: meat, and fi ber from grasses thatAgriculture Information Serviceis managed by the National Cen- cannot be digested by humans. • Lands most susceptible to erosionter for Appropriate Technology(NCAT) and is funded under a (or otherwise unsuitable for annual Livestock eat excess plant materi-grant from the United States crops) can be maintained as perma- als while animal wastes contributeDepartment of Agriculture’sRural Business-Cooperative Ser- nent sod. nutrients for plant growth.vice. Visit the NCAT Web site( • Land used for row crops benefits • Marketing meat, milk, fi ber, andhtml) for more informa-tion on our sustainable from a year or more in pasture as other animal products can diversifyagriculture projects. part of a crop rotation plan. The life producer income.
  2. 2. In the not-too-distant fertility requirements than do most dair- past, farmers more fully ies. Consistent production of high-quality integrated crop and forage under current management makes a livestock enterprises dairy or stocker enterprise an option to con- as a matter of course. sider. Otherwise, a different class of cattle, Gra i n produced i n sheep, or other ruminant (either alone or field rotation was either in a multispecies system) may be more sold or fed to livestock, suitable to your specific site and manage- ©2005 depending on market ment capability. conditions. CroplandThe sun is the source of energy for the entire planet was rotationally seeded In setting production goals for any livestockand much of this energy is captured and stored by enterprise, consider the economic returnplants. Plant fibers that are otherwise unusable by to forages, usually for per acre rather than production per animal.humans are eaten and converted into a new form several years. Land notof stored energy by domestic ruminants, such as suitable for crop pro- This is a change from traditional thinking.cattle, sheep, and goats. Producers can then mar- Compare pounds produced per acre or per duction was grazed.ket this animal meat, milk, and fiber. In a very real dollar invested rather than weaning weightssense, annual crop and livestock systems constitute Animals also foraged or shipping weights. This type of analysisa harvest of the sun and a new source of wealth. And after-harvest crop resi-the most efficient system to convert the sun’s energy dues and the remains shows actual profitability more clearly. (Seeto money is likely to be the most profitable. A dense enclosed article by Doug Gunnink for toolsand diverse forage community offers an excellent of failed crops. These to analyze profitability.)opportunity for livestock managers who can harvest time-honored strategiesand market it. are not totally absent from today’s agricultural landscape; how- Renovating Pastures vs. ever, a better integration of crop and live- Establishing New Ones stock enterprises is a necessary step toward Planting a new pasture offers the oppor- the goal of sustainable pasture lands. tunity to choose forage species and variet- ies suited to the livestock type adapted to Planning and Goal-Setting the soil and climate. Efficiency is further In analyzing your pasture systems, think of enhanced by matching the season of maxi- yourself as a grass farmer, and the livestock mum forage production to the period when as a means to market the forage. It doesn’t livestock can best use it or most need it. matter whether the grass is produced on Further, planting a diverse mixture of for- permanent pasture, on marginal land, ages with differing maturities provides a or on crop land in the pasture years of a high-quality, longer grazing season. rotation. An excellent goal is to produce enough good-quality County or state Extension personnel are ATTRA has developed several sustainability forage to sustain live- often good sources of information about for- checksheets for educators and producers to stock over as much of age varieties adapted to an area or even to a use in evaluating any operation that includes specific site. The Natural Resources Conserva- the year as possible. a grazing system. Each is designed to make tion Service (NRCS) is another good source of the producer think about how different parts Then choose the live- information on forage production practices of the pasture-based enterprise relate to each stock that can best appropriate for particular grazing systems. other. The checksheets were developed by use it. This agency has been given specific respon- teams of producers and educators and have sibility for helping farmers improve the graz- Of course, different ing lands of the United States. Most states been tested in several locations. Checksheets currently available include: livestock species and have at least one NRCS Grazing Lands Spe- classes of livestock cialist to carry out this mandate. You can find · Beef Farm Sustainability Checksheet have different feed more information about this initiative at www. · Dairy Farm Sustainability Checksheet requirements and · Small Ruminant Sustainability Checksheet forage preferences. Call ATTRA to request a printed copy of Most cow-calf opera- On the other hand, improving manage- any of these checksheets, or download tions, for instance, ment of an existing pasture is usually pref- them from our Web site at have lower forage erable to starting a new one. The cost to livestock.html. nutrition and soil seed, till, and control weeds for a new pas-Page 2 ATTRA Pastures: Sustainable Management
  3. 3. The animals do not return to a paddock GOAL OF GOOD GRAZING until the plants have recovered and regrown MANAGEMENT: to the desired height for grazing (usually six The maximum number of animals has plenty to eight inches). As a result, the plants have of good quality forage to graze throughout time to recover, the roots maintain energy as much of the year as possible. The needs reserves, and the livestock always have high of the soil, the plants, and the livestock are quality forage. balanced to achieve this goal. Knowledge of forage plants and animal- KEY TOOLS OF GRAZING pasture interaction is necessary to the suc- MANAGEMENT: cess of this type of grazing plan—and fre- • Stock density quent attention to both is essential. This is • Frequency of moves why these programs are often referred to as • Paddock rest “management-intensive” grazing systems. Controlled, intensive, and rotational grazing are other terms loosely used for this type ofture is expensive and must be considered. grazing management. The subject of grazingAdditionally, a producer must consider the management is covered more completely in Kcost to keep livestock off the acreage dur- the ATTRA publication Rotational Grazing. nowledgeing the establishment period. The risk of of forage,erosion during this transitional period must Rotations can vary from once every cou- ple of weeks to every 12 hours. Decisions pplants,also be taken into account. In short, it maybe more economical, and less disruptive to about when to move livestock are based on and animal-pasturethe soil ecology, to improve an existing pas- the seasonal amount of forage available, the interaction is neces-ture’s forage by introducing desirable spe- rate of forage growth, and the number and sary to the successcies using no-till seeding methods. type of animals grazing the paddock. The of a controlled number and size of paddocks is also consid-Many pasture problems—such as sparse plant ered. Typically, grazing animals are moved grazing plan.cover, weed invasion, and slow growth—are quickly through paddocks during periods ofcaused by poor grazing management. If this rapid plant growth. In the fall, quick rota-is the case, establishing a new pasture will tions keep grasses from going to seed andnot solve the problem. Newman Turner, in preserve forage quality. This strategy canFertility Pastures and Cover Crops, observes delay for several weeks harvesting of foragethat good grazing management can trans- as hay, allowing for hay to be put up dur-form poor grazing land into healthy, produc- ing a dryer time of the season. During othertive pasture. On the other hand, newly re- seasons, the grazed area is usually restedseeded pastures quickly become poor again long enough for plants to replace carbohy- drate reserves and to regrow.under bad management. (1) Thus, a carefulassessment of management practices is usu- A primary strategy of controlled graz-ally the best place to begin to make forage ing is to use fencingsystems more profitable. and livestock move- Profit is the difference between the cost of ment as tools to man- production and the price received for a prod-Choosing a Grazing System age forage growth uct. Most producers do not control the price and protect it fromMany managers use controlled grazing plans they will receive for their livestock (though overgrazing. If man- direct or cooperative marketing arrangementsinstead of continuous grazing to increase aged well, these sys- provide a measure of control). Lowering theforage utilization and profits. In a system tems produce more cost of production is a clear means to increaseof controlled rotations, pastures are subdi- forage and the ani- profit. Costs go down as less feed is purchasedvided into paddocks—fenced acreage of any mals always have and as animal health improves. The key togiven size. Livestock is moved between pad- access to tender, profitability is to emphasize a decrease in per-docks at frequent intervals, giving animals high-quality vegeta- unit costs of production over a simple increaseaccess to a limited pasture area over a short tion that results from in production.period of time. controlled ATTRA Page 3
  4. 4. Many grazing managers—or graziers—claim becomes more diverse under this type of that controlled rotational grazing improves grazing system. There is less competition pastures and the profits to be made from for the same soil minerals, and plants thrive them. Forage utilization improves even in the specific microclimates where they are under high stocking rates when the animals best adapted. Producers report that native are moved at the right times. Livestock grass species and many legumes spontane- health improves because forage quality ously appear in their pastures as rotational and quantity is better. Soil fertility is bet- grazing systems are adopted. In fact, many ter because most nutrients cycle through the advise new graziers to “plant only fence animals and remain in the paddocks. This posts” in the fi rst three years of intensive can also reduce the need for purchased fer- rotational grazing, because the plant ecol- tilizer. (See the ATTRA publication: Nutri- ogy will change—for the better. ent Cycling in Pastures.) More and better for- age means more animal production, which After three years of controlled rotational should result in more profit per acre. grazing, analyze the results. Should new forages be added to the pasture to meet A change to controlled grazing involves a specific production or management goals?A fter three modest capital investment. (See ATTRA’s If a goal is to extend the grazing season to Paddock Design, Fencing, and Water Systems reduce feed costs, new species might be years of for Controlled Grazing.) This may include added to existing pastures. Special-use pad- controlled buying and installing electric fence char- docks might also be considered. For exam-rotational grazing, gers, high-tensile wire fencing, and systems ple, in southern pastures with cool-seasonanalyze the results. to provide water to each pasture subdivi- grasses, the summer slump is a time of low sion. A simple system of temporary electric forage production and potential health prob- fencing may suffice at the outset for many lems, especially from endophyte-infected producers. Water can be delivered initially fescue. Native grasses or plantings of sum- in above-ground, UV-stabilized pipe. With mer annuals can fi ll this gap in the grazing experience, most graziers will settle on how season. In the Midwest, the grazing season the permanent systems should be confi g- may be extended into the winter by strip- ured. For more information on controlled grazing crop residue. Stockpiled fescue or grazing call ATTRA at 800-346-9140 other grasses, if carefully rationed, can sup- (toll-free), or visit the ATTRA Web site at port several extra months of winter grazing, even where there is some snow cover. Small grains offer options for fall, winter, and/or Changes in the Plant spring grazing, depending on regional cli- Community mate conditions. In a continuous-grazing system where ani- mals are given free choice, they will elimi- Managing Fertility nate the most nutritious or palatable plant Grazed pastures need less fertilizer than species, because they graze them repeat- those that are hayed. Animals actually use edly. Root reserves of these preferred spe- up very few of the nutrients from the plants cies are eventually exhausted, and the they eat. Most minerals are returned in plants die out. Fescue, bermudagrass, and animal wastes as part of a natural cycling white clover persist under continuous graz- of nutrients. Phosphorus is excreted pri- ing because their growing points remain, marily in manure, and nitrogen and potas- even when the plants are grazed heavily. sium return in urine and manure. As long In a controlled-grazing system, animals as wastes are evenly distributed throughout don’t have access to all the plants in the the grazing area and biological agents such pasture at one time. Plants are allowed suf- as earthworms, dung beetles, and soil bac- ficient time to re-grow and restore their root teria are active, the system should be rela- reserves. Eventually, the plant community tively stable.Page 4 ATTRA Pastures: Sustainable Management
  5. 5. Good fertility management includes a regu- by the lab. For example, a recommenda-lar walk through the paddocks to monitor tion may not be entirely accurate to pro-pasture production and to see where spe- duce grazing forage if the lab doesn’t takecific grasses and legumes thrive. Notice into account recycled nutrients by the graz-that certain plants tend to thrive under cer- ing animals. Lab fertilization recommen-tain soil moisture and fertility conditions. dations may be over- or underestimated,The types and locations of weeds can also depending on whether forage is harvestedindicate how a fertility program is working and removed or grazed on site. Use com-and help identify special situations such as mon sense to interpret soil tests, but keepwet areas. (2) them to monitor changes in soil chemistry and nutrient levels.Conscientious grazing managers recordmeasurements or estimates of available A special test to determine micronutrientpasture in each section. Using these fi g- levels may have to be requested. It is goodures, they budget resources for the future, to check these levels, since they can betaking into consideration the amount of rest critical to soil—and animal—health. Whenneeded before the next grazing period, as soils show deficiencies in essential micro- Awell as the animals’ forage needs. nutrients, supplement either the animals simple pH and/or the soil.Various plants contribute to soil fertility. adjustmentLegumes increase the total nitrogen content Soil organic matter (SOM) is monitored to can increaseof the soil (see discussion below). Deeply determine the general health of the soil mineral availabilityrooted plants such as alfalfa, warm-sea- and its biological residents. You may haveson grasses, trees, and some weeds bring to request and pay extra to include SOM in in most soils.up other nutrients from deep in the sub- your soil test. On the soil test report, SOMsoil. These nutrients remain in the top lay- includes any living or partially decomposeders of the soil when the vegetation decays materials, as well as humus, the fi nal prod-and then become available to other plants uct of biological activity. When SOM isnearby. (See Trees in Pasture Systems in relatively high, it contributes nitrogen andthe Appendix for more about the benefits helps make other mineral nutrients moreand potential problems related to trees in available to plants. Adding composted ani-pastures.) mal manure is one way to increase SOM. Likewise, leaving a thin layer of organicPeriodic soil tests and forage analyses are residue on the soil surface contributes totools to monitor a pasture’s status. Soil test SOM, and it shades the soil and feeds theresults indicate the levels of mineral nutri- soil organisms. (More about soil organicents in the soil. Forage analysis is a way matter can be found in the section below.)to test whether nutrients present in thesoil are actually being used by the plants. Some simple methods to assess soil char-Many Extension offices offer forage analy- acteristics require just a shovel and a fewses; when requesting this service be sure other widely available pieces of specify whether test results will be used The ATTRA publication Assessing the Pas-to balance a feed ration or for soil fertil- ture Soil Resource describes several testsity decisions. Independent laboratories are that can be used periodically for a quickavailable if your local Extension doesn’t assessment of the soil.offer this service. The ATTRA publicationAlternative Soil Testing Laboratories is avail- Soil Amendmentsable online or upon request. Carefully consider whether purchasedSoil test results include fertilizer recommen- amendments are economically justified. Ifdations based on information the farmer soils are the limiting factor, buying inputsprovides about field history and planned to improve the soil is a wise, long-termuse. Remember that these recommenda- investment. In such cases, improvementtions can vary depending on assumptions in soil fertility is key to building a dense, ATTRA Page 5
  6. 6. lush, and healthy pasture. Such pasture Another excellent resource to understand provides good nutrition to grazing animals, fertility in grazing systems is Nutrient and wastes contribute to further build the Cycling in Forage Systems, the proceed- productivity of the land. ings of a 1996 conference in Missouri. A simple pH adjustment can increase min- See Additional Resources (under Joost eral availability in most soils. Legume and Roberts) for ordering information. growth in mixed pastures that tend toward ATTRA also offers Sustainable Soil Man- acidity will benefit, and in turn increase agement and Assessing the Pasture Soil available nitrogen and add more organic Resource for more on pasture fertility and matter to the soil. Lime is used to raise the monitoring. pH, but also is an important source of Building Organic calcium. It is also less expensive than Organic Matter Matter many other purchased fertilizers. The Some recent research has focused on the ratio of calcium to magnesium and many organisms that make up a healthy soil These items add potassium is important in itself. See ecosystem. Plant root systems work together organic matter: the enclosure “Lime, the Forgotten with tiny plants and animals underground • Plant roots Fertilizer” for more information on in a complex, highly organized system very • Plant residues this subject. similar to the one above ground. The soil Composted animal manure might biological community includes large popu- • Green manures also be an excellent investment lations of many species of bacteria, fungi, • Animal manures because it adds fertility and benefits nematodes, mites, and other microscopic • Other organic soil microbes. However, if manure animals. Balances among the populations “wastes” is applied to the same pastures over are maintained by variations in the amount • Hay and other feed many years, phosphorus can build up. of food available for each part of the sys- brought in tem. Elaine Ingham, Ph.D, a soil micro- Excessive phosphorus levels in soils biologist, has named this system the Soil These things destroy and the threat of phosphorus-satu- Foodweb. organic matter: rated soils leaching soluble phospho- • Tillage and bare rus are serious concerns in some parts Ingham offers a service to test soils for ground of the country. See ATTRA’s Nutrient the presence of various organisms. (3) Cycling in Pastures for details on the However, she says a grazier can moni- • Some pesticides phosphorus cycle and how graziers tor pasture soil health just by testing for • Compaction can prevent phosphorus pollution of soil organic matter (SOM) content, which • Continuous surface and ground water. includes carbon contained in living organ- cropping isms, fresh plant and animal residues, and One situation where fertilizer pur- soil humus. This type of test measures the chases are often appropriate is in percentage of soil (by weight) that is SOM. grass dairy operations. Because grass dair- Because organic matter levels are harder to ies compete with grain-fed systems, produc- maintain in warmer, more humid climates, ers must provide continuous access to the what constitutes a “high” or “low” percent- highest feed value forage available. Like- age varies in different parts of the country. wise, grass-fi nished meat animals should Local Extension personnel or soil scientists have plenty of high-quality pasture to gain can help defi ne these relative values. weight quickly and consistently during the fi nishing period. Both of these enter- A single test establishes a beginning prises have potential for good profitability point, and subsequent tests show whether when well managed. Nevertheless, fertilizer soil organic matter is increasing. See the inputs are justified only if existing pastures box Building Organic Matter for ways to are under full use. The important point is increase soil organic matter, along with to base decisions on an analysis that com- practices that decrease it. Avoid practices pares input costs to the profits or overall that adversely affect the number of earth- benefits that might be generated. worms in the soil. In fact, counting earth-Page 6 ATTRA Pastures: Sustainable Management
  7. 7. worms in a shovelful of soil is an easy way have been planted.) Annual legumes thatfor farmers to monitor soil health. Increas- do not produce hard seed must be man-ing worm numbers indicates progress aged to allow some plants to go to seedtoward the goal of a healthy, biologically every year to keep them in the forage soil. Beyond this, providing for the nutritional and light needs of legumes, along with ade-Legumes in the Pasture quate rest after harvest, should ensure theirLegumes increase soil fertility, improve persistence.overall feed value of available forage, and If the legume is established and maintainedextend the grazing season. Bacteria that live at about a third of the total pasture, thein nodules on the legume roots convert nitro- plants won’t need additional nitrogen fertil-gen in the air to a form the plant can use. ization. Research at Michigan State Univer-After the nodules separate from the roots sity shows that different combinations of fouror the plant dies, this nitrogen is available cool-season grasses with three clover spe-to nearby plants. Even during the growing cies produce, on average, 14 percent moreseason, dead leaves fall to the ground and forage than the same grasses grown alone Wprovide extra nitrogen to the pasture sys- and fertilized with 200 pounds per acre of hentem. Compared to grasses, legumes have nitrogen. The conclusion is that it doesn’thigher digestibility and higher mineral and intro- pay to apply nitrogen to pastures with 30protein content. percent or greater mix of legumes. (4) ducing However, it’s hard to estimate legume per- legumes into anWhen introducing legumes into an estab-lished grass pasture, fi rst be sure that mag- centage, because the leaf orientation makes established grassnesium and potassium levels are suitable. it seem a higher percentage of total forage pasture, first be sureThen graze the area heavily to set it back. than it actually is. To better estimate overall that magnesiumMany producers use a sod-seeder or other percentage, sample and weigh plants in an and potassium levelsno-till seed drill, but some have had luck area with a lot of legumes. are suitable.with frost seeding. This is the practice of Remember, hungry animals introduced tobroadcast seeding in very early spring into highly leguminous or wet legume pasturesareas where the ground alternately thaws may bloat. To prevent this problem, provideand freezes. Timing must be good to take hay to animals before they access a legumeadvantage of these temperature swings. pasture. Certain products on the marketThese are conventional practices, and infor- protect livestock from this potentially deadlymation is widely available about them. physiological condition. Since bloating isFor legumes to prosper in a pasture, the inherited, if you cull susceptible animals,grass must be kept short enough that you may eventually reduce the problem inthey are not shaded out. Nitrogen fertil- your herd.izer favors the grass, and you can inad-vertently reduce the percentage of legumes Managing Weedsin the pasture mix by adding it. Each In a controlled-grazing system, livestock canspecies of legume thrives in a particu- help control tall weeds that re-seed them-lar pH range, but maintaining it between selves. Because animals have access to asix and seven favors most legumes. Some limited area for only a short period, theylegumes, such as lespedeza, tolerate more often become less selective in their grazing.acid conditions. They tend to eat the same weeds—in young,Many annual clovers produce hard seed tender growth stages—that they reject as theand will persist in a pasture if allowed to go weeds mature. Many weeds provide goodto seed periodically. (It is this “hard seed” nutrition during this period of palatability.that accounts for the legumes that seem to Mowing before weeds flower and produceappear from nowhere in pastures where seed also helps to control them, althoughmanagement has changed, but no legumes the cost is ATTRA Page 7
  8. 8. Conserved Forages vs. Grazing Providing good-quality forage throughout the year saves considerably on feed costs. Year-round grazing is possible in some parts of the country and is a realistic goal in some regions. Many producers, even those in cold climates, report favorable experiences with attempts to “outwinter” their livestock. Adequate feed and shelter from wind and Photo courtesy of USDA ARS. moisture are critical. Reports indicate that, under favorable conditions, animals seem to Another weed management strategy is to prefer being outside where they can forage graze different kinds of livestock together. at will. Sheep will complement grass–eating cattle A sustainable pasture plan should be based in the pasture by consuming broadleaves, on animals harvesting quality forage for blossoms, and seeds, while goats prefer themselves as much as possible. Neverthe- brushy vegetation high in cellulose. Infor- less, when spring pastures produce more mation about animals’ nutritional require- than livestock can use, machine harvest is ments and the nutrient content of various one strategy to ensure quality forage later in forages is available from basic forage and the grazing season. animal science textbooks. For more informa- tion on the benefits and challenges of graz- Allan Nation, editor of The Stockman Grass ing mixed livestock, request the ATTRA Farmer, is fond of questioning the econom- publication Multispecies Grazing. ics of owning “heavy metal.” It is expen- sive to maintain equipment and to harvest A growing number of beneficial insects is forage for hay or silage, so it is sometimes becoming commercially available to control more economical to buy hay or hire a cus- thistles and some other perennial weeds. tom baler. However, it can be difficult to These weed-eating insects are especially find someone to custom harvest and process adapted to a perennial pasture where habi- spring growth at the optimal time. tat is not destroyed or disturbed by annual cultivation. If local sources are unable Another challenge to a spring hay harvest is to help, ATTRA has information about the weather. A spell of good haying weather, biological management tools and where if it comes at all, rarely arrives at the per- to get them. fect time. One option in wet conditions is to harvest, pack, and seal the excess spring Tall perennial weeds that livestock do not grass in bunkers for fermentation. Live- eat can be controlled with the judicious stock, controlled by a single wire of electric application of a broad-spectrum herbicide, fencing, can then have direct access to the such as Round-Up®. Hand-held sprayers silage bunkers. will work, but a wick-type applicator places the chemical on the targeted weed foliage Some producers advocate baling high-mois- only. Hand-held wicks are available as well ture hay and wrapping it so that it will fer- as equipment designed to be pulled behind ment. Baleage, as the product is called, is a a tractor or four-wheeler. Also on the mar- high-quality feed when properly harvested ket are backpack flaming devices that actu- and protected from air spoilage. This is one ally burn the weeds and provide a non-toxic way to harvest on time in wet springs. How- option to control difficult weeds. ATTRA ever, specialized equipment is expensive for publications Flame Weeding for Agronomic one producer to own and operate, and rental Crops and Flame Weeding for Vegetable Crops may not be available. Several producers in provide more detail about this option. an area with similar needs might recoverPage 8 ATTRA Pastures: Sustainable Management
  9. 9. some costs through contractual arrange- • fertilityments among themselves. The amount of • irrigationplastic used to seal cut forage is a concernfor many farmers as well, since it must be • species selectiondisposed of after use. For more information • grazing managementon grass silage or baleage, contact a local These factors can be managed.Extension office or NRCS personnel.In summary, conserving forages can help Fertilitymanage fast-growing spring pasture, and hay Attention to soil fertility is critically impor-or silage is useful to carry livestock through tant in irrigated pastures. Pasture establish-some of the year in most parts of the coun- ment is a key time to ensure soil is ade-try. However, the goal should be to directly quately fertile for the selected forage speciesgraze as much as possible to avoid the costs to become established and remain produc-to harvest and store forage. Custom harvest- tive. During secondary tillage, rock miner-ing or even buying good hay may be cheaper als, composted manure, or commercial fer-than maintaining a tractor and implements. tilizers can be incorporated into the soil. In S(See the enclosed article by Jim Gerrish on the intermountain regions, it is important ome nutrientsthe true cost of hay.) to ensure adequate phosphorus and potas- do leave the sium before planting, but nitrogen should pasture sys- be applied early the second spring. Cool,Considerations for dry springs are difficult on grass seedlings, tem in the form ofIrrigated Pasture Systems and nitrogen applied at this time may be meat and milk. appropriated by the Western U.S.Many regions in the western United States, Apply nitrogen only after the grass standincluding intermountain valleys of the is successfully established. If the stand hasRocky Mountains, the prairies of the north- a legume component, limit the use of syn-ern Great Plains, and certain arid regions thetic nitrogen fertilizers. In general, nitro-of the desert Southwest, experience short gen fertilization favors grass growth, andgrazing seasons due to high elevation, lim- phosphorus fertilization favors legumes.ited moisture, or a combination of both. Yearly applications of 20 to 50 poundsLivestock producers in these regions fi nd per acre of phosphorus can significantlyit particularly important to manage forage increase alfalfa yields and stand persis-and pasture in the most efficient way pos- tence in areas deficient in phosphorus. Soilsible. By integrating irrigated pasture with tests are fairly reliable to gauge phospho-dryland pasture, range, and hay aftermath, rus needs, but again, modern soil testingthe grazing season can be lengthened and assumes the forage will be harvested andlivestock provided with high yields of qual- fed on site. Don’t underestimate the utilityity forage. of the mineral fraction of nutrients in the soil, and the natural nutrient cycle that sup- ports pasture ecology.The EssentialsConventional wisdom holds that one acre Whereas most soil nutrients are cycled back to the soil in a grazing system, some nutri-of irrigated pasture in most intermountain ents do leave the pasture system in the formvalleys provides enough forage for twelve of meat and milk. More information on fer-cow-calf pairs for one month. But unpro- tility and nutrient cycling can be found inductive irrigated pastures are more the the ATTRA publication A Brief Overview ofnorm, and few producers maintain pasture Nutrient Cycling in its full potential. Productive irrigatedpastures are usually the result of success- Irrigation can also have an effect on nutri-ful management of several production fac- ent cycling. Coarse, porous soils do nottors, including: retain water as readily as heavier soils, ATTRA Page 9
  10. 10. heavy irrigation can leach nutrients into the Understanding the basics of soil-water groundwater. If the pasture has any slope dynamics helps producers make deci- to it, nutrients can leave in runoff. Ditches, sions on when to irrigate, especially in dikes, and proper irrigation scheduling can areas where water is scarce or energy alleviate this problem. costs for pumping are high. The Agrimet system (see Web Resources) is an excel- Grass-legume mixes provide good pasture lent resource for producers making irri- productivity and animal nutrition and aid nutrient cycling and pasture fertility. Pas- gation scheduling decisions. In addition, tures with a heavy clover component can the Natural Resource Conservation Ser- produce up to 200 pounds of nitrogen per vice (USDA-NRCS) district offices have acre per year, and can supply 6 to 12 per- access to each county’s soil information cent of the nitrogen needs of companion and can assist producers to determine the grass plants during the growing year. Given water holding capacity of soil types on these prospects, a producer can optimize area farms. The Irrigator’s Pocket Guide, the use of soluble and organic soil nutri- developed by NCAT for the NRCS, is an ents by relying on plant species diversity excellent resource with timely information on irrigation scheduling, system capacity,N and nutrient cycling from manure, urine, ever and plant senescence to supply a large por- and general water management. It includes irrigate and tion of pasture soil fertility. More detailed fi gures, forms, and tables to design and graze at the information on this subject can be found manage water systems more efficiently. in the sections Managing Fertility and The Pocket Guide has useful informationsame time. Organic Matter. for most areas. It can be ordered from ATTRA by calling 800-346-9140. Other ATTRA publications on irrigation include: Irrigation Soil Moisture Monitoring: Low-Cost Tools Efficient water use is crucial for sustainable and Methods and Measuring and Conserv- irrigated pasture management. Irrigated ing Irrigation Water. pastures require about 24 inches of water per growing season. What is not supplied Always remember to irrigate a pasture by precipitation needs to be made up with immediately after the livestock have been efficient irrigation. Grasses and legumes moved, and never irrigate and graze at require about 0.20 and 0.25 inches of water the same time. Hoof action on wet soil can per day respectively throughout the growing destroy its structure, resulting in compac- season. So, frequency of irrigation depends tion and decreased soil productivity for on soil texture and, in turn, on water hold- years to come. ing capacity of the soil. Heavier (clay) soils hold more water, up to Species Selection 2.5 inches per foot of rooting depth, and The importance of choosing the right coarser (sandy) soils hold less water, around plants to use in an irrigated pasture 0.75 inches per foot. Pastures have an effec- cannot be overstated. The high cost of tive moisture depletion allowance of about irrigation, including initial equipment 65 percent, which means plants begin to purchase, energ y, and maintenance suffer stress after 65 percent of the soil’s demand that a producer select the most water-holding capacity has been depleted. productive plant species for the region. For example, pasture soil with a water hold- In some situations, short season prob- ing capacity of 1.5 inches per foot, and a lems and low yields can be addressed rooting depth of four feet, can hold a total of though proper species selection. Choose six inches of water. At a 65 percent deple- long-lived, winter-hardy forage plants tion allowance, 3.9 inches remains available adapted to your specific soil type. Plants to the plants. If the plants use 0.25 inches should be capable of high yields and have per day, an irrigation event that saturates the genetic potential to withstand grazing the soil will last about 15 days. and regrow quickly.Page 10 ATTRA Pastures: Sustainable Management
  11. 11. Species diversity is also important, as was excellent sources of information for anyonediscussed in detail earlier. Greater produc- growing pastures and forages in the inter-tivity and increased biodiversity are fostered mountain West or northern Great Plains. Athrough grass-legume mixes. A grass com- list of forage species for Montana and Wyo-ponent in a legume pasture can also mini- ming—widely adapted to irrigated pasturesmize health problems associated with bloat. in many western states—is enclosed.Some non-bloating legume species includecicer milkvetch, sainfoin, and birdsfoot tre- Forage Cropping Systems tofoil. For the intermountain West, a mixture Extend the Grazing Seasonof two grasses and one legume provide asmany, or more, benefits to pasture produc- Many western ranchers grow alfalfa hay totivity as do more diverse pastures in higher provide high quality feed to late-gestation and calving cows in the winter. Most alfalfarainfall areas. fields remain productive for six to eightChoose the right species for the mix, how- years in the intermountain West. As swardever, because species that mature at dif- density diminishes, the stand is generallyferent times can result in low quality for- terminated and placed into small grains forage. Creeping foxtail and timothy are both a year or two. This rotation has its benefits.excellent irrigated pasture grasses, but fox- Tillage and crop differentiation allows thetail matures several weeks before timothy. producer to break the pest cycle. And ter-Red clovers and vetches usually do not per- mination of an alfalfa field offers an oppor-sist as well as alsike clover, white clover, tunity to augment ranch forage assets withand alfalfa in the intermountain regions. quality pasture while extending the grazingSome good substitutes for alfalfa in irri- season as well.gated pastures are sainfoin and birdsfoot For example, a producer might terminatetrefoil, which, unlike alfalfa, are tolerant of the alfalfa and plant winter wheat in thehigh water tables. A very common seed mix fall, and then overseed the field with annualfor irrigated pastures in the intermountain ryegrass in the spring. The wheat can beWest is meadow brome, orchardgrass, and taken as grain, silage, or hay in the sum-alfalfa. mer, allowing the ryegrass to grow for lateWarm-season grasses are sometimes a good summer and fall grazing. The same can bechoice for the Southwest and Great Plains, done with spring-planted barley. The resultand can result in substantial livestock gainsand milk production when managed inten-sively. Warm-season annuals such as sor-ghum and sudangrass are good choices forrotational or strip grazing, and are verygood if the pasture is used in a crop rota-tion. Cool-season grasses such as brome,ryegrasses, timothy, and cereals are oftenhigher in digestibility and crude protein,and are more adapted to intermountain,inland Pacific Northwest, and Great Plainsregions.Check with your local county Extensionoffice or conservation district for recommen- Photo by Lee Rinehartdations on forage species particular to yourarea. For general purposes, please refer to Fertility and species selection are important. But the single most important factorthe Alberta Forage Manual and the Inter- to increase production on irrigated fields is a workable grazing management sys-mountain Planting Guide cited at the end tem that meets the nutritional needs of livestock and maintains the pasture swardof this publication. These two guides are in the vegetative stage throughout the grazing ATTRA Page 11
  12. 12. of this cropping system is a high quality pas- However, for the producer who wishes to ture that can be intensively managed with scale back on hay production, the irrigated high stocking rates, thereby resting native meadows can be used for grazing during pastures that might otherwise be grazed the the growing season, and upland meadows same time each year. that consist of bunch grasses like Altai Other systems that work well to extend the wildrye can be stockpiled for winter feed. grazing season: Altai wildrye typically remains a high qual- ity forage well into the dormant season, and • Stockpiling perennial grass or large bunch grass type holds up well under legume forage for fall grazing. a snowload. • Early season grazing of winter wheat Producers who choose to develop a rotational and subsequent grain harvest. grazing system on their irrigated meadows • Planting perennial grass pastures for can realize better animal gains per acre and use as winter standing forage, e.g., reduced feed costs associated with feeding Altai wildrye, which maintains qual- the cow herd in the winter. See the ATTRA ity well when dormant and stands up publication Rotational Grazing for a general under a snow load. introduction to this type of grazing system. For most cool-season bunchgrass species, Grazing Management 18 to 27 days rest is adequate for substan- Complementary grazing is a system in which tial regrowth without allowing the plants livestock are grazed in annual or perennial to become too mature. A problem that can seeded pastures in the spring and fall, and occur in short-season regions is forage matur- are taken to native range in the summer ing in the last pastures to be grazed before when the native grasses are in their prime. the livestock get to it. To deal adequately with This system uses each pasture when it is at this situation a producer might turn livestock its peak in quality and quantity, and it is in to the first pasture early, maintain a quick commonly used in western states to supple- rotation, and then slow it down as the season ment range and extend the grazing season. progresses. A good formula to estimate an Within this context, western producers are initial pasture stocking rate is: familiar with continuous grazing. The size number of animals = and scope of grazing units, coupled with Pasture size (ac) x pasture yield (lb/ac) the use of public grazing allotments, often 0.036 x avg. animals wt(lbs) x grazing season (days) preclude fencing and other necessary infra- structure to support intensively managed For example, assume a producer has a 50- rotaional grazing. In addition, most produc- acre irrigated pasture of orchardgrass, ers who graze irrigated meadows also hay meadow brome, and alsike clover. A reason- them once or twice during the growing sea- able expectation of dry matter yield in the son, and only graze intermountain West is 2.5 tons per acre, or them for hay after- 5000 pounds per acre. If the producer wants math. For this rea- to graze 800-pound yearlings for 90 days, son, irrigated mead- the calculations to figure the stocking rate on ows tend not to be an early turn-out to maximize irrigated pas- managed intensively ture use is: for grazing, as they number of animals = are seen to be more 50 acres x 5,000 lb/ac valuable for winter 0.036 x 800 lbs x 90 days feed than for sum- mer grazing. After Again, a rapid grazing rotation during the all, that is what the early season is important to consider. At Photo courtesy of USDA, NRCS mountain meadows higher elevations, spring temperatures can are for. dip to freezing each night, slowing grassPage 12 ATTRA Pastures: Sustainable Management
  13. 13. growth. Hitting the pastures too hard too Sustaining Excellent Pasturesearly can impede the system’s ability to Maintaining a productive plant communityrebound and deliver good forage produc- that can profitably feed livestock requirestion later in the summer. Another approach attention to the soil, the plants, and the live-is to decrease the stocking rate until nights stock. Each of these alone contributes tobecome warmer and forage production excellent pastures, but even more impor-begins in earnest. Like any rotational graz- tantly, each affects the others. Too often,ing system, controlled grazing in the West farmers attribute problems in a grazing sys-requires observation, observation, and more tem to the wrong forage species or inade-observation. The Chinese proverb holds true quate fertility, when poor animal-plant-soilhere: “The best fertilizer for the land is the management is the real culprit. Bringing in afootprint of the farmer.” new species or adding fertilizer rarely solves problems caused by an inattentive manager.A Word about Dragging and How you manage your grazing livestock, however, makes a big difference in pastureHarrowing Pastures improvement. This improved pasture like- CAvoid using irrigated pastures to winter feed wise contributes to better health of those an youhay unless you plan to renovate, drag, or same animals.harrow in the spring. Feeding grounds are identify thesubject to soil compaction because of the If you don’t already know your soil, get maps plants in and learn about soil types. Use soil testlarge numbers of animals that congregate your pastures? results to decide what amendments to apply.there over the winter. Harrowing pastures to Is your soil organic matter level high or lowdistribute manure, although not always cost- for your climate? Is it increasing under youreffective, is often recommended in short-sea- management?son regions, at least once at the beginningof the growing season. In cold regions with Can you identify the plants in your pas-short growing seasons, nutrients cycle in the tures? Are they perennial or annual? Do yousoil at a much slower rate than in more tem- know how best to graze these plants? Whatperate regions. Manure piles therefore tend are their soil requirements? How tall shouldto break down slower, and dragging can they be when you begin to graze and at whatbreak them up, increasing surface area and, height should animals be removed?it is thought, aiding in decomposition. How do your animals look and behave? Are they alert with bright eyes and smooth coats?Summary Are they skittish or calm? Can you moveSustainable livestock production in the west- them without a lot of stress?ern U.S., as in all regions, requires ranches Continually monitor your pastures. Are theyand farms to rely more on green growing lush and dense? Is there evidence of soil ero-forages as the primary feed for the opera- sion? Are there many over-mature plants?tion. Careful attention to fertility, efficient Have certain areas been grazed too short?irrigation, and grazing season extension Is there some dead plant residue on thethrough appropriate forage cropping sys- soil surface, but not too much? Is leaf colortems are effective ways to lower production an even, strong green? Are there plenty ofcosts, reduce off-farm inputs, and build soil legumes in the species mix (about 30 per-resources. In addition, paying attention to cent by dry weight)? Does the soil feel softspecies selection and implementing a well- and springy underfoot? Do you have plentyorganized and suitable grazing management of feed for your animals throughout the graz-system fosters continued resource use in per- ing season, or are there times (mid-summer?petuity, aids in the financial well-being of the late fall?) when you need more?operation, and ensures that ranching remains Good grazing management is different fora viable livelihood for the next generation. each livestock operation. Stock density, ATTRA Page 13
  14. 14. quency of moves, forage residual, and plant animals, and the plants can be useful later resting periods are decisions that you make as you analyze records. For instance, when based on goals and preferences. Watch and a particular weed species becomes unpalat- record what happens as you change one of able or when clover begins to bloom may be these factors. These observations will help valuable to know. you, as time goes by, to become a better gra- zier. Try to understand what causes changes Financial records further help you under- that you see in the soil, plants, or the animals stand and improve the overall grazing sys- in your pastures. Each constantly affects the tem. Keep track of how much fertilizer others, and the more you learn about how you use, when it was applied, and how they interact, the more control you will have much it cost. Are there application costs? Putting it all together over your pasture system. What other expenses are there? Veteri- in a grazing system narian bills, custom services, herbicides, for your specific site As an example, according to Jim Gerrish, and mowing or dragging expenses should is a challenge that stock density can be used to affect pasture be included in the record-keeping sys- may take years of quality, to cycle nutrients, and to regulate tem. Were animals shipped or brought in? observation and forage intake. One expected result of increas- When? And for how much? creative problem- ing the stock density is that after the animals solving. There is no leave a paddock, forage height will become Whether you use a shirt-pocket notepad one way to do it. more uniform. or a computer program, these records are Keep learning more central to understand and improve the effi- Since many of the effects of individual deci- about your forages sions will not yield such obvious results, con- ciency and profitability of a grazing sys- and livestock. Seek tinually seek out more information about tem. However, as the manager, you must ideas from other intensive grazing. Excellent books, some take time periodically to analyze records. innovators and test What have you done and when? How well them. Implement periodicals, many workshops, and even local field days can help you learn more. A list of has it worked? Were there unexpected out- those that work. comes? Try to fi gure out what happened. Keep fine-tuning written materials and electronic resources is found in Resources. The best-laid plans will not be perfect— the system. The especially at fi rst. Outside factors such result will be better Consult with another rancher or join a pro- as the weather and the markets further pastures that better ducer group to learn more about grazing. complicate situations. sustain your live- Many such grazier groups provide informa- stock and you. tion and support to improve members’ sys- As has often been said, there is never an tems. Typically, groups include beginners as average year. The most successful manag- well as those with years of experience. Activ- ers are constantly on the alert, ready to ities range from gathering periodically and identify problems as they develop—such walking one another’s pastures, to meetings as thinning pastures or declining live- with speakers, and seminars. See ATTRA’s stock health. Good managers are prepared Grazing Networks for Livestock Producers for with a plan for every contingency: years of further information about these groups and drought or flood, selling or retaining stock how to start one. State forage specialists during different parts of the price cycles, (either Extension or NRCS) should help you and the unexpected loss of labor. For exam- locate a nearby group, if there is one. ple: When a drought sets in, will destock-Photo courtesy Keep records of grazing activities. Keep ing or buying feed best serve your goals?of USDA ARS. notes on how many and what types of Which animals should be culled fi rst, and animals graze each paddock. Write how can they be marketed most profitably? down when they enter and when they Are there steps you can take to reduce leave. Notes about forage heights at entry the negative impacts of the drought? and removal, as well as estimates of the Planning along these lines will be appre- amount of forage consumed (pounds per ciated when the situation is at hand. See acre or some other consistent measure), further information about drought man- help determine overall forage produc- agement by searching on “drought” at the tion. Other comments about the soil, the ATTRA Web site, 14 ATTRA Pastures: Sustainable Management
  15. 15. Related ATTRA Publications Rotational Grazing Meeting the Nutritional Needs of Ruminants on Pasture Grass-Based and Seasonal Dairying Multispecies Grazing Dairy Farm Sustainability Checksheet Sustainable Soil Management Sustainable Beef Production Assessing the Pasture Soil Resource Beef Farm Sustainability Checksheet Nutrient Cycling in Pastures Sustainable Sheep Production A Brief Overview of Nutrient Cycling in Pastures Goats: Sustainable Production Overview Beef Marketing Alternatives Small Ruminant Sustainability Checksheet Paddock Design, Fencing, and Water Systems for Controlled Grazing Matching Livestock and Forage Resources in Controlled Grazing Grazing Networks for Livestock ProducersReferences: Gerrish, Jim. 1999. Strategies for pasture improve- ment. Forage Systems Update. January 1. p. 1-3.1. Turner, Newman. 1974. Fertility Pastures Gunnink, Doug. 1993. Gross margin analysis helps and Cover Crops. 2nd ed. Bargyla and Gylver show the way to grazing profits. The Stockman Grass Rateaver, Pauma Valley, CA. p. 18. Farmer. April. p. 14-15.2. Murphy, Bill. 1987. Greener Pastures On Your Holzworth, L., and J. Lacey. 1991. Species Selec- Side of the Fence. Arriba Publishing, Colchester, tion, Seeding Techniques, and Management of Irri- VT. p. 207-212. gated Pastures in Montana and Wyoming. p. 9-12. In:3. Elaine Ingham Irrigated Pastures in Montana and Wyoming. EB 99. Soil Foodweb, Inc. MSU Extension Service, Bozeman, MT. 980 Northwest Circle Blvd. Corvallis, OR 97330 Hoveland, Carl S. 2001. Know your forages…clover. 541-752-5066 The Stockman Grass Farmer. January. p. 10-11. Joost, Richard. 1997. Pasture soil fertility manage-4. Leep, Rich, and Doo-Hong Min. 2005. Clovers ment. p. 35-46. In: Gerrish, Jim, and Craig Roberts beat commercial N in Michigan studies. The (eds.). 1997. Missouri Grazing Manual. University Forage Leader. Spring. p. 11. of Missouri, Columbia, MO. 172 p.5. Engle, Cindy. 2002. Wild Health: How Animals Keep Themselves Well and What We Can Learn Martyn, Roger. 1994. Lime, the forgotten fertilizer. From Them. Houghton Miffl in Company, The Stockman Grass Farmer. March. p. 14. New York, NY. 276 p. Mueller, Ray. 1999. Pasture fertilizing practices varyEnclosures according to goals, needs.Anon. 2001. The grass farmer’s bookshelf. The Sheath, G.W., R.J.M. Hay, and K.H. Giles. 1987.Stockman Grass Farmer. June. p. 19–22. Managing pastures for grazing animals. p. 65–74.Barnhart, Stephen K. 1999. Selecting Forage Spe- In: Livestock Feeding on Pasture, New Zealand Soci-cies. University Extension, Iowa State University, ety of Animal Production Occasional Publication No.Ames, IA. 4 p. 10. Private Bag, Hamilton, ATTRA Page 15
  16. 16. Resources Web sites also provide information useful to graziers. Although these sites are constantly changing, andThe Stockman Grass Farmer (see Periodicals, below) is there are more each week, several are listed excellent monthly publication that covers alterna- Be sure to check the sites of nearby land-grant univer-tive forages and innovative management. Many of the sities. Rotational grazing systems are becoming everarticles are written by producers and contain practi- more accepted in the mainstream. Extension materi-cal tested ideas. (Be warned: evaluate each new prac- als tailored to your state will contain information use-tice before committing resources to it.) The commer- ful to both the beginner and the experienced grazier.cial and classified ads offer services and supplies thatgrass farmers need and that may be difficult to find Additional Resourceslocally. A free sample issue is available to those whocall or write to request it. Books: Irrigated pastures in the western U.S. Alberta Forage Manual. 1992. Print Media Branch,Graze (see Periodicals, below) is another outstanding Alberta Agriculture, 7000-113 Street, Edmonton,monthly that includes articles on all aspects of graz- Alberta, Canada. 86, pasture management, and marketing. In a regu-lar feature, five or more “grazing advisors” answer a Heitschmidt, Rodney K., and Jerry W. Stuth. 1991.question posed by the editor. These advisors, each an Grazing Management: An Ecological grazing operation manager, represent a variety Timber Press, Portland, OR. 259 p.of livestock types and geographical locations. Intermountain Planting Guide. USDA-ARS and UtahHolistic Management® (formerly Holistic Resource State University Extension. AG 510. Contact USUManagement or HRM) is a decision-making process Extension for ordering information at 435-797-2251.that was originally developed for livestock manage- Books: General pasture managementment on range. Currently, many farmers and ranch- Ball, Donald M., Carl S. Hoveland, and Gary D. Lace-ers use this model as a monitoring tool to evaluate field. 1996. Southern Forages. Potash and Phos-options when planning changes to their operations. phate Institute and the Foundation for AgronomicContact the Center for Holistic Management for Research, Atlanta, GA. 264 p.information and referrals to state organizations andregional representatives. The Center also offers a Barnes, Robert F., Darrell A. Miller, and C. Jerryquarterly newsletter. Nelson (eds.). 1995. Forages: The Science of Grass- land Agriculture. 5th ed. Vols. 1 and 2. Iowa State The Allan Savory Center for Holistic Management University Press, Ames, IA. 516 p. and 357 p., 1010 Tijeras NW respectively. Albuquerque, NM 87102 800-654-3619 Bingham, Sam, with Allan Savory. 1990. Holistic Resource Management Workbook. Island Press, Cov- elo, CA. 182 p.Many electronic resources are now available to those Blaser, Roy E. 1986. Forage-Animal Managementwith access to a computer. Of particular interest are the Systems. Virginia Agricultural Experiment Stationinteractive listserves used by various livestock ranch- Bulletin. Virginia Polytechnic University, Blacksburg,ers. One that is not species-specific is the graze-l list- VA. 90 p. [This publication is out of print but isserve. To subscribe, send a message containing the well worth the effort to locate at land-grant universitywords “subscribe graze-l” and your e-mail address libraries or through Interlibrary loan.]to There are lists specificto many grazing species as well. Beef-l, dairy-l, and Chessmore, Roy A. 1979. Profitable Pasture Man-sheep-l sometimes address issues related to pasture– agement. The Interstate Printers & Publishers, Inc.,raised livestock. It is possible to ask questions and to Danville, IL. 424 with other producers through these and other Gerrish, James R., and Craig Roberts. 1999. 1997lists. However, because details on individuals and their Missouri Grazing Manual. Forage Systems Researchspecific situations may be lacking, advice received on Center Agricultural Experiment Station, University ofelectronic lists should be carefully evaluated. Missouri. 163 p.Page 16 ATTRA Pastures: Sustainable Management
  17. 17. Hodgson, John. 1990. Grazing Management: Science Savory, Allan, and Jody Butterfield. 1999. Holisticinto Practice. Longman Handbooks in Agriculture. Management: A New Framework for Decision Making.John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY. 203 p. Island Press, Covelo, CA. 616 p.Hodgson, J., and A.W. Illius (eds.). 1996. The Ecol- Turner, Newman. 1974. Fertility Pastures and Coverogy and Management of Grazing Systems. CAB Inter- Crops. Bargyla and Bylver Rateaver, Pauma Valley,national, Wallingford, UK. 466 p. CA. 202 p.Joost, Richard E., and Craig A. Roberts. 1996. Voisin, Andre. 1988. Grass Productivity (reprint).Nutrient Cycling in Forage Systems. Proceedings of a Island Press, Covelo, CA. 353 p.conference March 7-8, 1996, Columbia, MO. Potashand Phosphate Institute and Foundation for Agronomic Wilkinson, J.M. 1984. Milk and Meat From Grass.Research, Manhattan, KS. 243 p. Granada, New York, NY. 149 p. Available for $15 from: Potash and Phosphate Institute Periodicals 772 22nd Avenue S. The Forage Leader Brookings, SD 57006 American Forage and Grassland Council 605-692-6280 P.O. Box 891 Georgetown, TX 78627Langer, R.H.M. 1990. Pastures: Their Ecology and 800-944-2342Management. Oxford University Press, New York,NY. 499 p. GrazeMurphy, Bill. 1998. Greener Pastures on Your Side P.O. Box 48of the Fence: Better Farming With Voisin Grazing Belleville, WI 53508Management (4th ed.). Arriba Publishing, Colchester, www.grazeonline.comVT. 379 p. $30 for 1 year subscription (10 issues) Available for $30 from: Hay and Forage Grower Arriba Publishing Webb Division 213 Middle Rd. Intertec Publishing Corp. Colchester, VT 05446 9800 MetcalfNation, Allan. 1993. Grass Farmers. Green Park Overland Park, KS 66212-2215Press, Jackson, MS. 192 p. The Stockman Grass FarmerNation, Allan. 1992. Pa$ture Profit$ with $tocker 282 Commerce Park DriveCattle. Green Park Press, Jackson, MS. 190 p. Ridgeland, MS 39157 800-748-9808 (toll-free)Nation, Allan. 1995. Quality Pasture: How to Create www.stockmangrassfarmer.comIt, Manage It, and Profit from It. Green Park Press,Jackson, MS. 285 p. Electronic Resources: General pasture management,Ness, Julia Ahlers (ed.). 1998. The Monitoring Tool southern and eastern pasturesBox. The Land Stewardship Project, White Bear [Note that these addresses change often.]Lake, MN. 45 p. The Great Lakes Grazing Network Available for $45 from: Land Stewardship Project 2200 Fourth St. Cornell Forage-Livestock System White Bear Lake, MN 55110 651-653-0618 Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences PublicationsNicol, A.M. (ed.). 1987. Livestock Feeding on Pas- Occasional Publication No. 10. New ZealandSociety of Animal Production. Private Bag, Hamilton, American Farmland Trust’s Grassfarmer SiteNew Zealand. 145 p. ATTRA Page 17
  18. 18. University of Wisconsin Forage and Extension Links AgriMet is a network of more than 90 weather stations that collect and telemeter site-Forage Systems Research Center specific weather data. This information is trans- lated into crop-specific water use information. The primary emphasis is on irrigation manage-Tom Trantham’s Twelve Aprils Dairying ment and applying the right amount of water the optimal time.Modern Forage Electronic Listservers Graze-LSustainable Farming Connection’s Grazing Page To subscribe send an e-mail or In the body of the e-mail, type “subscribe graze-l”Electronic Resources: Western irrigatedpastures The Grazer’s EdgeHolzworth, L., and J. Lacey. 1991. Species Selec- To subscribe send an e-mail totion, Seeding Techniques, and Management of Irri- Pastures in Montana and Wyoming. Montana In the body of the e-mail, type “subscribeState University Extension. EB 99. 17 p. grazersedge.” APPENDIX: Trees in Pasture SystemsSmall Pasture Management Guide for Utah. USDA/ Trees in a pasture provide several services, but theyNRCS, Utah State University Extension, and Utah can also be challenging. They affect soil fertility, holdState Conservation Districts. 11 p. http://extension.usu. surface soil in place, give livestock relief from the sunedu/files/agpubs/Pasture.pdf and the wind, and change water relations. They can supplement other feed sources, increase wildlife habi-Interagency Forage and Conservation Planting Guide tat, and become an additional source of income.for Utah. Edited by Howard Horton, USDA/ARS.Utah State University Extension. AG-433. 79 p. Trees gather nutrients from a large area to sustain both above- and below-ground parts and deposit those nutri- ents on the soil surface. Tree roots go deep into the soilLundin, F. 1996. Coastal Pastures in Oregon and and spread underground at least as far as the edge ofWashington. Oregon State University. the leaf canopy. When the leaves fall, the microorgan-EM 8645. 8 p. isms in the top layer of the soil convert them into nutri- ent forms to be used again by the tree and by nearbyFrost, B. and M. Schneider. 1994. Establishing irri- forage plants. Tree roots continually grow and die. Thegated pasture at 4000- to 6000-foot elevations in Ari- dead roots are broken down in the soil and contributezona. Arizona Cooperative Extension. #194028. 6 p. directly to organic matter, increasing water retention and improving soil structure.Redmon, L. 2003. Forage Establishment, Manage- Shade trees in pastures can be a benefit, but they canment, and Utilization Fundamentals. Texas Coopera- also create problems. It is cooler under the trees, andtive Extension. SCS-2003-07. 8 p. livestock tend to congregate there. These areas become nutrient sinks. That is, nutrients gathered during graz- ing are later deposited under the trees as waste. ThisWater Quality and Irrigation Management. Depart- nutrient transfer from open pasture to under the treesment of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences. reduces pasture productivity. These and other areas ofMontana State University. high animal concentration or repeated use (like around water and minerals) also tend to accumulate parasites,The Great Plains Cooperative Agricultural Weather which then reinfest the livestock. Livestock concentrat-Network. U.S. Dept. of the Interior. ing around a tree can also lead to compaction the root zone and result in the loss of a tree.Page 18 ATTRA Pastures: Sustainable Management