Open Gate: Green Fields Farm Day Results

rainbow over cows
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In spite of a very wet spring, and predictions of even more rain, a diverse sell-out crowd of almost 90 participants came out to HMI’s Open Gate: Green Fields Farm Day on May 16th.   bio monitoringThe recent flooding and wet weather conditions did not dampen the day’s events, though some activities were modified to avoid damaging the water saturated pastures.

Shuttled to the barn in a cattle trailer lined with hay bale benches, participants arrived to hear about Green Fields Farm journey with Holistic Management.   Jennifer Brasher and Kaylyn Cobb, recent graduates of Holistic Management International’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers: Women in Texas program, talked about how Holistic Management has given them a new perspective—how writing their 3-part Holistic Goal and using the Decision Testing process has helped them stay focused and moving forward.   They shared their goal of building healthy soil, raising nutrient dense foods, and glorifying God by restoring his Creation to health, abundance of life, clean water and beauty.

The entire day was a testament to the work they have done and the effectiveness of Holistic Management, including:

  • Dr. Richard Teague,  Associate Director and Professor, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, dec testing groupspresenting the latest research on how holistically managed grazing can improve the health of your soil, affecting the microbiology in the soil, forage growth, and carbon sequestration
  • Walt Davis, Rancher, Consultant, and author, talking about how unnecessary pesticides and herbicides can be when you manage your animals and land holistically
  • Small groups working on a decision testing exercise and understanding the value of the decision testing process
  • Holistic Management Certified Educator and Program Manager Kathy Harris giving a lunch time demonstration on using refractometerrefractometers to measure the Brix (nutrient density) of foods, and a short presentation paralleling human microbiology and soil biology
  • Small groups practicing biological monitoring by looking at land and the effects of cover crops and grazing
  • Clint Walker, III, sharing his knowledge about honeybees and how to create an environment that promotes pollinators
  • Willie Durham, NRCS Texas State Agronomist, demonstrating the impacts of different land management techniques on water collection and infiltration with the rainfall simulator and slake and aggregation testsslake and aggregation test
  • Jonathan Cobb of Green Cover Seed and one of Green Fields Farm’s owner/operators,  taking participants on a virtual tour (slide show) of the farm including soil test data showing the improvements achieved with diverse cover crops and grazing management

Thanks to our funder for the day:  the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation and our sponsor:  Greencover Seed.   We greatly appreciate the collaboration and support from these friends:  Dixon Water Foundation, Texas AgrilLife Research, NRCS, Walker Honey Farm, Dancing Bee Winery, Sand Creek Farm & Dairy, Natural Grocers, Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance, and Weston A. Price Foundation.  Thanks to Green Fields Farm and all the folks who contributed to the outstanding nutritious and delicious lunch and snacks.

What participants had to say about the day:

“Of all the various schools and seminars that we have been to, this was one of the best, and lunch was absolutely the BEST!!!!!  It was truly a success!!!!!”

 “All speakers were excellent; this was the best of the 3 HMI Open Gate events I’ve attended.”

 “Very organized, great speakers, very generous on food.  Well done!”

 “Thank you so much for offering this high quality event.”

 “Content was wonderful!”

 “Very impressive.”

 “Fantastic, practical, timely info.”

 “Great – good material, good demonstrations.”

 “The best event ever!”

 “Very well organized.  Wonderful, knowledgeable people.”










Question% Participants
Overall Satisfaction (Rated good to excellent)100%
Facilitator's Effectiveness (Rated good to excellent)100%
Producer's Effectiveness (Rated good to excellent)100%
Speaker's Effectiveness (Rated good to excellent)100%
Intend to biologically monitor my land as a result of this event? 100%
Intend to test decisions for my operation as a result of this event?97%
Intend to change management practices/apply ideas I learned at this event?94%

Cattle Management Can Improve Habitat…and Prevent Global Warming

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Dixon-Deer.smallIt’s great to see more and more people acknowledging how practicing Holistic Management can improve wildlife habit. Our friends from the Kerr Wildlife Management Area, The Dixon Water Foundation – Mimms Ranch unit and Dr. Richard Teague are featured in an article by Robert McKee. Here’s an excerpt…

In arid West Texas in the northern-most parts of the Chihuahuan Desert, there’s an 11,000-acre ranch that uses cattle to groom and improve the desert grasslands just as the native bison did for centuries. At the Mimms Ranch, CEO Robert Potts will tell you how cattle are a tool to improve the rangelands. Potts shares, “…cattle are an important part of healthy range ecology. When managed as a grazing system, you can create or manipulate habitat to benefit birds, plant health, and soil fertility. What we’re seeing is more grass and more cover. For birds, it’s important for feeding, nesting, and for just staying out of the really heavy winter winds that whip across the desert plains out here.” The Mimms Ranch rotates cattle daily and has a full-time manager.

You can read the entire article on the Land Link website >>

Grazing Animals Down Under

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Using Grazing Animals to Increase Productivity and Profitability

HMI and Glenrock Farm would like to invite you to our Open Gate event in Cloyna, Queensland. Learn a holistic management decision making process that will help you improve land productivity, water holding capacity, increase soil health and much more – plus meet fellow land managers who practice the techniques we’ll be sharing. It’s going to be a fun day on the farm!

Event: Glenrock Farm Day
Date:  Saturday, July 4, 2015
Location: Glenrock Farm, Cloyna, Queensland, Australia

Click here for details and information on how to register.

Carbon Capture for New Mexico

holsitic management is good fro carbon sequestration , soils,
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David Johnson, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Agricultural Research at New Mexico State University, recently released this informative presentation about the importance of proper fungal:bacteria ratios and how this indicator is more indicative of production potential of the soil than even organic matter. He also explains how to build compost bins to create compost with good fungal:  bacteria ratios as well as the results he’s captured from his research on the dry and compost tea application of this compost. HMI Open Gate Mimms Unit, MonitoringLastly, he takes a look at the potential for carbon sequestration in soils that have the right fungal:bacteria ratios and how this method compares to other carbon sequestration strategies being considered by utility companies who must begin to mitigate their carbon emissions. A fascinating and accessible read for anyone although the information does focus on research done in New Mexico.

(If you open the presentation and hover over the comment icon in the upper left hand corner, you can see read the comments –works best in the Fire Fox Browser)

First Millimeter Documentary Now Online

10.3.11.How to Grow Grass
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We are very excited to announce that the full PBS Documentary, The First Millimeter: Healing the Earth is now on HMI’s YouTube Channel. We’ve also posted it on our 2015 International Year of Soils page.  If you’d like your own dvd copy, we are still selling those in HMI’s Store.  

Grab the popcorn and settle in to watch this amazing video that explains through interviews and stunning footage why the first millimeter of soil is critical to our collective future and how the practice of Holistic Management can heal the earth.

Innovations in Agricultural Stewardship Report Released

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Pat and Sharon O'Toole from the Ladder Ranch

Pat and Sharon O’Toole from the Ladder Ranch


HMI is excited to report that the National Young Farmers Coalition has just released a report in partnership with the Family Farm Alliance to elevate the voices of farmers and ranchers utilizing smart solutions to build drought resilience, steward water, and grow good food through effective resource management practice.

The report is titled Innovations in Agricultural Stewardship: Stories of Conservation & Drought Resilience in the Arid West. It offers five case studies profiling producers across the Colorado River Basin and beyond who—with curiosity, creativity, and seasons of trial and error—are  conserving resources while enhancing productivity. Two of the ranches, The Ladder Ranch in Wyoming and the Princess Beef in Colorado, practice Holistic Management.

This report is a great resource for anyone interested in learning about effective agricultural stewardship and how it helps build drought resilience through improved soil health and good management.

Californ-I-A, here we come!

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Grass-Fed Beef on Conservation Lands

HMI is happy to be back in the Golden State with a new Open Gate event! California is one of several states to be severely affected by drought in recent years and we’ll help tackle the issue at this “boots-on-the-ground” learning day. Whether you are an agricultural producer, wildlife manager, local agency representative or just interested in ranching, land stewardship and grass-fed meats, this is a day for you.

Hosted by the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) and Markegard Family Grass-Fed discussing grass-fed production, watershed stewardship and soil health; you won’t want to miss this one…

Event: POST – Markegard Family Grass-Fed Day
Date:  Sunday, July 12, 2015
Location: Markegard Family Grass-Fed at Cloverdale Coastal Ranches, Pescadero, California

Click here for details and information on how to register.

Getting Started Introduction to Holistic Management Whole Farm/Ranch Planning Course Results

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HMI’s Online Learning Series Getting Started Holistic Grazing Planning course began in March 2015 with 29 participants from all around the world. This course focused on key Holistic Management planning concepts and principles to help participants manage their farm/ranch for the triple bottom line (social, environmental, and financial sustainability) and more effectively manage resources. Participants were excited to learn how to improve their ability to observe, understand, and make decisions, based on what they can control. Through these new skills participants now have the knowledge and tools to improve their ability to work with nature and to increase productivity. Based on the survey responses, here are the changes that occurred:

Getting Started Introduction to Holistic Management Planning Survey Results% Participants -Increased Knowledge or Confidence
Ability to define your management team 100%
Ability to inventory your farms resources100%
Ability to develop a whole farm goal 100%
Ability to identify needed systems and protocols to create a successful farm 100%
Ability to integrate social, economic, and environmental factors into your decisions 100%
Ability to make complex on-farm or ranch decisions100%
Ability to assess ecosystem health100%

Here’s what the participants had to say:

“I learned how to apply the decision-making / testing questions; what HM looks like in real life – very helpful, and gave me a bit more confidence in my understanding of Holistic Management”

“It was helpful in identifying aspects of my farm enterprise that I had not thought of before.”

“[I learned] the importance of being honest with myself, and looking at the whole picture when making decisions.”

“I learned how to more systematically make inventories, goals and test decisions – a great help in our early stages of farm setup”

“You don’t have to change all your acres at once!”

“It’s wonderful, I’m pursuing the Financial Course and have been slowly filing out an HMI Grazing Plan. Real game-changer for us!”

“Very informative and easy to follow course structure and resources, and great facilitation of group discussion. Excellent course instructor who was very inclusive and to the point.”

‘We thought this was the best session overall!”

Featured Participant:

Neil JohnsonNeil Johnson

“I am so glad to have done this course. My wife and I are planning to go farming very soon and it has helped us articulate and consider our resources and ideas in a really clear and structured way. We also really like how the processes encourage creativity, and respect for our ecosystem and our community.”

Texas Grazing Planning for Drought Mitigation Results

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Ryan Reitz, Grazing Manager at Kerr Wildlife Center

Ryan Reitz, Grazing Manager at Kerr Wildlife Center



On April 24-26th, participants of HMI’s Drought Mitigation Series in Texas met at Kerr Wildlife Management to spend 3 days learning about grazing planning to improve productivity of land even in drought. This portion of the series was taught by Holistic Management Certified Educator Peggy Sechrist and long-time Holistic Management practitioner and rancher, Walt Davis. Participants had a lot of time both in the classroom and out on the land to learn about key grazing strategies and implementation as well as work on their own holistic grazing plan.

Walt Davis shared his knowledge about ranching and participants learned that raising animals is not a system or a program. He said, “It’s applied logicand that plant diversity in our pastures is key. He talked about the stocking rate, which is the number of pounds of animals you stock per unit of grazing land for the grazing season. He also noted that if the stocking rate is wrong, nothing else works and it will significantly compromise an operation that is facing drought.

Walt also noted that the recovery period for pastures is equally important to stocking rates. If you keep cattle in a pasture too long, they may graze the grass too short, damaging the roots so the plant recovery will take longer. We actually grow more, by leaving more. He said if we get in the habit of two-day grazing periods, we will greatly reduce horn flies and the recovery of forage will be quicker. If cattle stay in a pasture and eat grass down to two to four inches, they may have parasite problems because parasites will crawl up high enough on the short grass for the cattle to ingest them. He shared that the longer animals grazed a pasture, the poorer the animal performance. High stock density grazing can increase land resilience with proper recovery.

Walt went on to discuss factors that increase profitability. He mentioned that we need to use Enterprise Analysis and pay close attention to risk to our potential profit. In his opinion if you are not making a 50% profit in an enterprise, don’t do it. Be sure that your enterprise fits your resource base. The best genetics are those that work under your management. These production strategies and management decisions are what make a difference for a ranch to survive challenging times, including drought.

Thanks to the Dixon Water Foundation and the Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation for their support of this program.

Here is what participants had to say:

I learned how to do the grazing plan & the plane of nutrition and how to keep good animal performance with grazing.

I learned how to balance expenditures, and the best cow types for grassfed beef.

I intend to begin measuring soil organic matter to show/monitor improvement of water holding capacity.

I intend to begin measuring soil organic matter, but usually though looking at litter, degree of decay and surface/subsurface life.

I know from past experiences which soil test it is too low – now I know how to improve.

I intend to break my large pasture into paddocks and manage each individually.

I intend to have a more thorough grazing plan ready so we can estimate and predict our pasture usage.

I learned that the quality of the grazing material needs to be utilized in optimum relation to the stock needs – protein, life/stage.


Outcome % of participants
Are you more confident in your ability to assess forage volume for grazing planning as a result of this course? 64%
Are you more confident in your ability to complete a grazing plan as a result of this course? 91%
Are you more confident in your ability to monitor ecosystem health on your farm as a result of this course? 100%
Do you intend to change any management practices/apply ideas you learned as a result of this event? 100%
Do you intend to create a grazing plan for your livestock as a result of this workshop? 100%
Do you intend to begin measuring soil organic matter as a result of this training? 100%
Increased knowledge of the difference between a growing season plan and a non-growing season plan 100%
Increased knowledge of the relationship of planned grazing to increased water storage in the soil 82%






Soil Feeds Plants and Vice Versa

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HMI is excited to share another video with the Holistic Management community in celebration of the International Year of Soils. The NRCS video is titled “The Science of Soil Health: Soil Feeds Plants, and Vice Versa” and provides information about the incredible symbiotic relationship of microorganisms in the soil and the plants. This video includes information about David Brandt from Ohio who has been seeing a great difference in soil health and production as he has integrated cover crops into his cropping system. As one of our Facebook friends said: Soil is so cool!