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Grazette Newsletter - May 2013


Welcome to spring (finally)! Grass is green and growing, the forecast looks good, and animals are either transitioning on to or are fully on pasture. We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief, and move forward happily through the spring flush – enjoy!

Please continue to send in notices of pasture walks and workshops by three days prior to the end of each month - the Grazette is distributed monthly.

Upcoming Pasture Workshops and Related Events:

Restorative Pasture Management Practice

When: Sunday, May 5th – 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Where: Conkling Hall, 8 Methodist Hill Road, Rensselaerville (Albany County)

A discussion on a sustainable farming technique that utilizes livestock to improve and restore pastures. Featuring Morgan Hartman and Dr. Gary Kleppel, all farmers, landowners and interested residents are urged to attend. Free, with light refreshments. For more information you can e-mail Tim Lippert or call him at 518-339-6030.

Raising 100% Grass-Fed Beef

When: Saturday, May 11th – 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Where: East Quabbin Land Trust, 120 Ridge Road, Hardwick, Massachusetts

East Quabbin Land Trust logoThis workshop presents the benefits for the bovine, the human, the land, and the world of raising beef on a 100% grass diet. Participants will gain appreciation for details of producing consistently high-quality beef. Topics include genetics, management, grass, harvest, and handling. The morning features a lecture with photos. The afternoon features hands-on demonstration (bring your boots).

Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) of MassacusettsInstructor Ridge Shinn is a pioneer in the modern grass-farming movement. Ridge’s core expertise is in evaluating live cattle for performance on a grass only diet; picking cattle, breeding cattle, and raising cattle for the 100% grass-fed market.

Workshop sponsored by NOFA-Mass and East Quabbin Land Trust. Cost is $40 NOFA members, or $50 for non-members. You can register online. Pre-registration is required unless arranged by phone with the organizer, Ben Grosscup. Ben's cell phone number is 413-658-5374, or you can e-mail him.

Equine Pasture Management Meeting

When: Thursday, May 16th – 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Where: Placid Hills Stables, 196 Town Office Road, Brunswick (Rensselaer County)

Horses grazing in a pastureNew York State Grazing Lands Specialist, Dave Roberts of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service will be the guest speaker as we learn how to better manage our horses on pasture. Management topics to be discussed include; benefits of horses grazing pasture; improving pastures through management; and other grazing issues, including poisonous plants. Enjoy ice cream at the event, while we discuss grazing principles specific to horses and enjoy a pasture walk (weather permitting). Bring your horse grazing questions!

Cost of the meeting is $5.00; to register, please RSVP by e-mail to Marcie Vohnoutka or call her at 518-272-4210 by May 14th.

This workshop has been brought to you by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rensselaer County and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Albany, Columbia, Greene, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Schenectady and Washington Counties, and the Hudson Mohawk Resource Conservation and Development Council.

Advance Notice

Pasture Grazing For Profit

When: Wednesday, June 5th – 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
Where: USDA Service Center, Ghent and Grazin’ Angus Acres (Columbia County)

Mick Bessire, Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Columbia and Greene Counties will be discussing “Costs and Potential Returns of Grazing on Pasture”, followed by Karen Hoffman, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service on “Nutritional Attributes of Well-Managed Pastures”. Laura Sagar, Columbia County Soil and Water Conservation District and Jim Unser, USDA Natural Resources Conservation District will then give an overview of programs and funding available through SWCD and USDA NRCS.

Grazin' Angus Acres logoAfter lunch, we will travel to Grazin’ Angus Acres, to visit a “premier” grass-based livestock operation in Columbia County, featuring a purebred Angus cow-calf breeding herd, along with the production and marketing of grass-finished beef, pastured chicken and eggs, and meadow-raised pork. The Gibson and Stark families will host our group on a pasture-walk and tour of their farm. To register, please contact Eileen at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties, 518-622-9820. If you plan to stay for lunch, the cost is $10 per person. Please bring payment the day of the workshop.

Holistic High-Intensity Grazing & Genetics Workshop with Ian Mitchell-Innes and Gearld Fry

When: Wednesday, June 12th to Friday, June 14th
Where: Herondale Farm, 90 Wiltsie Bridge Road, Ancramdale (Columbia County)

Learn techniques to put you on the path to profit, including mob grazing, holistic financial management, and guiding principals for 100% grassfed genetics. Other topics include fencing, herding, and watering, as well as how genetics, selection, and management are the guiding principles used to build herds of cattle that can produce superior quality meat.

Cost is $450 for three days, with refreshments and lunch included. For more information or registration, send an e-mail or call 518-329-3769.

Pasture Soil Health News

A Better Understanding of the Impacts of Grazing Sheep

By Dennis O'BrienSheep grazing in a pasture
March 14, 2013

A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist is giving guidance to growers in Montana and the Dakotas on how grazing sheep when fields are left fallow will affect soil quality.

Grazing sheep and other livestock was once common in the region before fertilizers were introduced in the 1950s. While fertilizers increased yields, they also have increased nitrogen runoff and leaching, made soils more acidic, and contributed to greenhouse gas emissions, according to Upendra Sainju, a soil scientist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Sidney, Montana. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

Growers looking for alternatives have turned once again to grazing sheep during seasons when fields are left fallow. The trend in Montana and North Dakota prompted Sainju and his ARS colleagues to study the grazing's effects on crop quality, soil chemistry, and amounts of nutrients in the soil. Each can have long-term effects on crop yields.

Sainju and his colleagues set up three cropping systems (continuous spring wheat, spring wheat-fallow, and winter wheat-fallow) in southwestern Montana. They compared soil qualities on a series of plots where, during the fallow season, sheep were grazed, herbicides were used, or the soil was tilled for weed control.

Over four years, sheep were grazed at rates of up to 153 sheep per hectare (2.47 acres), glyphosate was applied at standard rates, and soils were tilled to a standard depth of 15 centimeters (5.9 inches). Soil samples from varying depths were analyzed for organic matter, nutrients, pH and electrical conductivity, which affects nutrient availability and plant growth.
The results showed that tillage did return more of the beneficial wheat residue to the soil than either grazing or the herbicide treatments, resulting in higher levels of calcium, sulfur, and electrical conductivity in the soil.

But grazing generally had no negative effects on soil organic matter and crop yields. The sheep returned to the soil some of the phosphorus and potassium they ate up in the wheat residue by way of their feces and urine. Grazing also increased levels of magnesium and sodium in the soil, possibly because the urine and feces contained higher levels of them.

The results of this study were published in the Agronomy Journal and Soil Science Society of America Journal.

Read more about this research in the March 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.


Want to submit an event? Interested in subscribing? Simply send an email to Karen Hoffman with your event information, or with the subject line of "subscribe" to be added to the distribution list! If submitting an event listing, please submit it three days before the end of the month prior to the date scheduled, as this newsletter will only be generated at the beginning of the month. Not interested? If we've sent this to you, and you're not interested in receiving it again, also send an email to the above address with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.

Brought to you by the NYS Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative. The Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative is a grass-roots coalition of producers, agricultural industry, and conservation groups with an interest in the sound conservation of private grazing lands. The goal of this newsletter is to increase awareness of grazing events around New York and in neighboring states, as well as to provide information that is useful on the farm. For more information on GLCI, check out the national GLCI web site. Information on the NYS GLCI can be obtained from GLCI Coordinator Karen Hoffman at the e-mail address above.