The Ten Main Threats to Soil Health

Gail Fuller shows the biomass he can grow with his cover crop seeding.

Gail Fuller shows the biomass he can grow with his cover crop seeding.

Here’s a great little infographic from the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO)about soil health and the need for good soil management. According to FAO to achieve healthy soil, we need to focus on the 10 main threats to soil functions: soil erosion, soil organic carbon loss, nutrient imbalance, soil acidification, soil contamination, waterlogging, soil compaction, soil sealing, salinization and loss of soil biodiversity. Holistic Management has been used by farmers and ranchers to address all of these issues. You can learn more about how they’ve done that on our soil health page.

Mexican Holistic Management Workshop January 15-16, 2016

Gerardo Bezanilla

Gerardo Bezanilla

Environmental Services on Holistically Managed Chihuahuan Desert Grasslands
January 15-16, 2016

Ascension, Chihuahua, Mexico

Local Livestock Association Ascension Building

10 am- 5pm

HMI is excited about partnering with Border 2020 Project to help deliver and support this workshop and training in Chihuahua, Mexico. This workshop will demonstrate how Holistic Planned Grazing can restore the health of the natural processes of pastures even in arid areas.

During the workshop, presenters will include livestock specialists dealing with different environmental variables who manage more than 65,000 hectares, including 9 cattle ranches in grasslands of the Chihuahuan Desert (8 in Mexico and 1 in USA). These environmental variables are a) concentration and carbon change on the ground, b) fluctuating groundwater levels, c) air pollution by dust particles of wind erosion, and d) ground cover.

Agenda

January 15th
10:00 Gerardo Bezanilla, Border 2020 Project, Holistic Management
11:00 Dr. David DuBois, New Mexico State University, The Effects of Dust
1:00 Lunch on your Own
2:00 Peter Donovan, Carbon Coalition, Carbon Monitoring
4:00 Dr. Carlos Ochoa, Oregon State University, Watershed Management and Riparian Hydrology in Arid Lands

January 16th
This field day will be held from 8:00 am on Rancho Las Lilas, located 25 minutes from Ascension City to Ciudad Juarez, where attendees can see in practice, some of the activities to be undertaken in the project ranches and learn how they can adopt new management practices to restore grasslands.
You get see a map for directions from the Ascension Local Livestock Association, to the Rancho Las Lilas).

This workshop is free and the doors are open to anyone who wants to learn. For more information please contact Gerardo Bezanilla, [email protected], Cel. Mexico (614) 184-1853, Cel. USA (361) 460-8266

Holistic Management in Canada GROWS!

Brian Luce
A herd of 800 cattle create herd effect when the Sunnybrae Farm tour comes to watch a pasture move. Participants then learned to evaluate soil health.

A herd of 800 cattle create herd effect when the Sunnybrae Farm tour comes to watch a pasture move. Participants then learned to evaluate soil health.

Following a series of field days across Canada this past year, HMI Certified Educators in Canada are offering more in-depth training over the next few months.   In 2015, HMI collaborated with Holistic Management Canada to deliver seven different Open Gate on-farm learning days.  The success of these events generated more interest in Holistic Management and has resulted in the need for more training.

HMI Certified Educators Don Campbell, Ralph Corcoran, Blain Hjertaas, Brian Luce, Noel McNaughton, and Kelly Sidoryk have planned 19  new sessions, each 2- or 3-day classes,  for January through March. In addition,  Sidoryk will present several half-day overviews of Holistic Management in early January.  Please see our  HMI Event Calendar  for more details about the upcoming training listed below:

 

Upcoming Training Sessions in Canada:

Jan 9-10, Innisfail

Jan 11, half-day overview,  Bonnyville

Jan 12  half-day overview, Smokey Lake

Jan 13,  half-day overview, Lac La Biche

Jan 11-13 & Jan 25-27, Yorkton area

Jan 12-14 & Jan 26-28, Maple Creek

Jan 14-16 & Jan 21-23, Valleyview

Jan 20-22 & Feb 3-5, Findlater

Jan 28-30  & Feb 4-6, Demmitt

Jan 30-31, Didsbury

Feb 9-11 & Feb 23-25,  Arcola

Feb 13-14, Ferintosh

Feb 22-24 & Feb 29 – Mar 2, Preeceville

Mar 1-3  &  Mar 10-12, Virden

 

 

 

Participants view the pastured pig set up at Ruzicka Sunrise Farms.

Participants view the pastured pig set up at Ruzicka Sunrise Farms.

The topic of Succession Planning was a draw for Tamara Ranch Day participants. Merle Good shares technical aspects of succession and transition.

The topic of Succession Planning was a draw for Tamara Ranch Day participants. Merle Good shares technical aspects of succession and transition.

From late June to early October of 2015, holistically managed farms and ranches in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba hosted one-day hands-on field days to introduce the principles and practices of Holistic Management. The more than 200 participants who attended reported management of almost 400,000 acres.  These Open Gates were highly effective, with 100% of participants reporting they would recommend this event to others, and 90% leaving with intent to change management practices or apply ideas learned during the day.

Topics covered in the 2015 series of Open Gates in Canada included high stock density planned grazing to improve profit, growing nutrient dense food, passing the farm to the next generation, regenerating land with livestock and improved soil fertility, and capturing carbon through cover cropping.

 

 

 

 

All aboard to go move the SG&R cattle herd to a new parcel of spring planted cover crops.

All aboard to go move the SG&R cattle herd to a new parcel of spring planted cover crops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy cows moving into new cover crop salad bar at SG&R Farms.

Happy cows moving into new cover crop salad bar at SG&R Farms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some brief highlights of the Outcomes from the individual Open Gates:

Outcome% Participants
Intend to complete or modify a grazing plan as a result of Day Spring Farms Day 83%
Intend to complete a biological monitoring on your land as a result of Lucends Ranch Day 95%
More confident in ability to determine land health as a result of Richards Family Farm Day 100%
Increased understanding of the ways Ruzicka Sunrise Farm has improved biodiversity 94%
Increased understanding of how to determine land health as a result of SG&R Farms Day 80%
Intend to complete a biological monitoring on your land as a result of Sunnybrae Farm Day 86%
Intend to complete or modify a grazing plan as a result of Sunnybrae Farm Day 93%
Learned important tips on succession planning with Holistic Management as a result of Tamara Farm Day 91%

 

 

 

Small groups evaluate ecosystem processes on the land at Richards Family Ranch

Small groups evaluate ecosystem processes on the land at Richards Family Ranch

 

A small group evaluates land and herd health during a cattle move at Day Springs Farm.

A small group evaluates land and herd health during a cattle move at Day Springs Farm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what participants had to say:

Great sharing and networking!  Presenters & information played off each other well. Good balance of theory & practice.

Very well done – structured well planned but also informative.

Gave me great strategies to run my herd and manage the land better.

Fantastic! Makes me want to learn more.

Did a good job of talking about soil health and then showing it.

Very well organized, good speakers, excellent lunch, very good all around.

Very informative, relaxed learning environment.

Wonderful opportunity to learn new ideas and meet people with common interests!

Excellent to see incorporation of mob grazing/intensive cattle mgmt with annual cropping!

Raising Beef is Good for the Planet

indexNicolette Hahn Niman, author of Defending Beef, has a great article in the Wall Street Journal about how beef is good for the planet. If you haven’t had a chance to read her book yet, this article gives you the key details to know or pass along to friends and family. We need to keep  getting the word out that livestock can improve soil health if managed properly. If you haven’t seen our page on how Holistic Management improves land health and wildlife habitat, please check it out and share it with others.

All-Star Panel Presents at Texas Grazing Conference

Grazing conference logo

Gabe Brown, Walt Davis, Deborah Clark and Dr. Richard Teague, HMI’s all-star panel, presented the grand finale  of  the 6th IMG_4853National Conference on Grazinglands in Grapevine, TX on Dec. 16, 2015 .  The standing-room crowd was testament to the valuable information they shared.

 

After Peggy Cole, HMI Program Manager, introduced the panel, challenging the audience to do their part in regenerating our soils, each panelist illustrated beautifully how they do that with Holistic Management.  Entertaining, informing and inspiring the audience, each panelist shared valuable information on how Holistic Management improves quality of life and financial stability while regenerating the health of the land.  Each of these practitioners represented Holistic Management in a way that earns the respect of skeptics, newcomers and long-time Holistic Managers alike.  The discussion session at the end was informative and clearly left many in the audience truly excited about the progress we are making and the potential for the future.

HMI’s panel presentation was one of more than 40 sessions with over 150 speakers over the 3 day conference.  The presentations covered  a wide variety of topics relating to grazing.  While some sessions focused primarily on technology solutions, several celebrated soil health in honor of the international year of the soils, and overall, Holistic Management (or at least rotational grazing with good recovery periods) was often mentioned in sessions as the winning strategy.   HMI Certified Educator Josh Dukart, with help from Gabe Brown, shared information on the tool of grazing in improving the health of the entire soil-plant-animal-human complex.  Other long time Holistic Management practitioners, including Gary and Sue Price,  George Work, and many others, shared experiences and creative ideas for better land management.  NRCS Deputy Chief for Science and Technology Wayne Honeycutt outlined best practices for mitigating climate change and healing the soil, listing a pretty good rendition of the land management practices of Holistic Management.

Thanks to all our long-time friends and to new students of Holistic Management who stopped by HMI’s booth to say hello.  It was great to re-connect with you and meet new friends as well.

Canadian Holistic Management Practitioner in the News

Harry Stoddart. Photo Credit Jennifer Paige. Manitoba Cooperator.

Harry Stoddart. Photo Credit Jennifer Paige. Manitoba Cooperator.

A recent article on the Manitoba Cooperator site was about sixth generation farmer, Harry Stoddart, who spoke at Manitoba Conservation District Association’s 40th annual conference about how practicing Holistic Management was such a good move for his farm.

“From my perspective, Holistic Management is key to any farm operation. It doesn’t matter whether you are grazing or not, the concepts in holistic management, the financial planning piece are key to moving a farm forward profitably and maintaining your eye on the triple-P bottom line — people, planet and profit,” says Harry.

Harry says that with Holistic Management he has been better able to improve soil health, reducing erosion concerns and increasing water infiltration.

Read the full article here.

Increase in Urban Female Farmers

bwf ny (1)There was an interesting article in Modern Farmer about the increasing numbers of women are getting into farming in North America through urban farming. However only 27 percent of farms in Canada are owned by women and 14 percent in the US. If you don’t inherit land then the cost for land is a huge hurdle for anyone to get into farming. In Canada, land value has increased by 113% from 2000-2012 and Iowa farmland cost increased by 31% in one year. US. Average real estate value is approximately $3000/acre. Given those costs women are using urban landscapes or growing crops like microgreens indoor. As we say in our training programs, you don’t need to own land or animals to farm or grow food. If you want to farm or ranch, develop your holistic goal first to articulate your key values and create your vision for the future. Holistic Management helps you test your decisions toward that holistic goal to more effectively help you achieve your farming and ranching objectives sustainably. HMI has also been training many beginning women farmers. Click here, to learn more about HMI’s Beginning Farmer/Rancher Program for both men and women.

Interview with Texas Holistic Management Practitioners

Holistic Mangement Practitioners, Birdwell & Clark RanchListen to this great radio interview of Deborah Clark of the 14,000-acre Birdwell-Clark Ranch near Henrietta, Texas. Deborah and her husband, Emry, have been practicing Holistic Management on their ranch, using their stocker operation to not only provide good income but also improve quail and other wildlife habitat. They can run as many as 5,000 stockers on as little as 45 acres to increase stock density, moving them 4-6 times a day.

Drought Busting Video

circle_ranch_drough_busters_101_feature-1200x550“Drought Busters” is an inexpensive, quick, physiologically and economically sustainable method of habitat and wildlife restoration developed by Chris and Laura Gill of the Circle Ranch in West Texas. They call it Drought Busters because it increases effective rainfall by rebuilding soil fertility and the soil’s ability to absorb and store water. This 21-minute video explains Drought Busters, and their experience on how wild and domestic animals, Keyline sub-soiling, and water harvesting can restore desertified grasslands. Thanks to Chris and Laura for sharing this video with the HMI community!

 

Getting Started Holistic Financial Planning October 2015 Course Results

Bruce Johnson Dragonfly Farms

Bruce Johnson Dragonfly Farms

HMI’s Online Learning Series Getting Started Holistic Financial Planning course began in October of 2015 with 15 participants from all around the world. This course focused on key financial principles that helped participants learn how to work on their business, not just in their business. This simple approach to financial planning assisted participants to understand the big picture view as well as make critical production decisions based on a clear sense of cost of production for different enterprises. Participants were able to develop a financial plan and identify ways to implement and monitor that plan. The participants were very excited to learn the key economic analysis tools for improved financial decisions for both annual budgets and for long-term investment.

Getting Started Holistic Financial Planning Course Survey Results% Participants -Increased Knowledge or Confidence
Determining your farm’s/ranch’s net worth 92%
Determining your farm’s/ranch’s projected revenue 92%
Prioritizing and cutting farm/ranch expenses to guide reinvestment in your farm/ranch after the course 92%
Identifying log jam and adverse factors 100%
Determining the weak link in your farm’s/ranch’s enterprises 100%
Your attitude towards financial planning after the course 100%
Your ability to determine your farm’s/ranch’s rough net worth (balance sheet) after the course 100%
How to increase your farm’s/ranch’s net worth after the course 100%
Determining viable profitable enterprises for your farm/ranch after the course100%
Your skills in developing a whole farm/ranch financial plan after the course 100%
Assessing the cash flow of your plan after the course 100%

Here’s what the participants had to say:

“Very helpful.”

“An excellent resource for beginning or even established ranches/farmers and a tool for starting new business as well.”

“This got us talking and looking at things in a different way and provided a framework to put it together.”

Most Useful things I learned:

“Log jam, adverse factors, I-P=E, cash flow projections”

“The things we marked in the above list, having the spreadsheet is really helpful, thinking about weak links, and logjams, and planning for profit”

“Identifying logjams and prioritizing expenses.”

Featured Participants:

Bruce Johnson

Bruce Johnson 2“Our family has been managing a grassfed beef farm and horse boarding operation for 8 years. The Holistic Financial Planning Course helped us clarify our goals and get an understanding of how to move towards our goals using our finances. We can now better analyze our financial data and prioritize effective re-investments in our business. We are continuing to do the work that we learned about in the class and will continue to improve our financial plan as we grow.”

Jared Dressman

Jared Dressman, Scholarship Recipient

“This course has helped me to formulate a holistic goal, and the knowledge and skills to get started pursuing that goal.”