GRASS AND CATTLEat West Wind Farm, Greenbrier County, WV by Martha Holdridge
Feedlot - Oklahoma Typical source of commercial supermarket beefStanding in excrement + no grass + unnatural major feedsource (grain) = need for antibiotics, hormones to prevent illness and promote rapid growth
Management-Intensive Grazing (MIG) • Paddock fence - polywire electric • Water trough with float valve • Daily moves to fresh paddock • Paddock rest of 14 to 28 days • Kelp/salt mix
Rotational Grazing• Efficient and effective – Cattle - 100% forage diet • healthy meat/milk – Ongoing pasture fertilization • dung + carbon cycle + nitrogen cycle – Pasture rest - then vigorous re-growth – Protects best grasses • Steers are moved before eating grasses too short• At WWF, daily moves to fresh pasture – Steers are happy to move
Soil Tests Show Startling Benefit• ORGANIC MATTER – tested by WVU soil testing service• 2004 4.1% 2007 8.3%• Asked WVU Prof.: Why so great a change!!• Answer: “You’ve been sequestering carbon!” 4 tons SOC / acre in 5 years = 15 tons CO 2• Why? How? Organic pasture management combined with daily rotational grazing.
How Does Cattle Eating Grass Lead to Carbon Sequestration?• Grass leaves and roots are a product of photosynthesis (sun+CO2+green plant+water).• When cattle eat grass leaves, the roots partially die back, leaving organic matter in the soil.• That organic matter is 57% carbon (C). - It is called soil organic carbon (SOC).• Result: C of CO2 in air is drawn into the soil – Yield: more soil, better soil = SOIL REGENERATION• Rotational grazing pulsing of grass/root growth pulsing of carbon sequestration
Organic vs Chemical ManagementOrganic soilsenhance soil life,grass rootstructure, andmineral nutrientuptake. Managedgrazing causesroot dieback thatincreases SOC. Organic Chemical http://www.wtamu.edu/~crobinson/SoilFert/ section2/AR2007091900472.html
Clover Draws Nitrogen from the Air Clover root nodules hold nitrogen in soil for gradual use by both clover and grass
Fossil Fuel to Raise a Steer = 5 barrels/283 gal.Gas/diesel/oil: for plowing, planting, cultivating, harvesting,drying corn/soy beans, transport of animals & grain to feedlots.Natural gas: used to produce chemical fertilizers, pesticides. Credit: National Geographic, June 2004
Fossil Fuel to Raise a Steer on Pasture: Less than 20 gal. (examples)Estimates by 2 NE Pasture Consortium members: 17, 15 gal.• No fuel for grain production, chemical fertilizers, or pesticides• Minimal fossil fuel for spreading lime, making hay, transport. .