Poop is Beautiful

dung-beetles
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Believe me, once you take a look at this video, you will never look at soil the same way again!   Dr.Patricia Q. Richardson from the University of Texas has produced this fascinating video, Soil Critters – Life in the Great Underneath. Pat’s know as the dung beetle lady and her mantra is Poop is Beautiful! The video “creepy crawly” look at the beneficial critters living in healthy soil.

We’ve published this video in support of the UN’s International Year of Soils. And of course Holistic Management is a great way to build and maintain healthy soils.

Understanding the Carbon Cycle and Soil Health

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Carbon Cycle Institute Graphic

Carbon Cycle Institute Graphic

 

 

While 2015 might be the International Year of the Soil, at HMI, every year is about soil health. We are always excited to see new ways that people are explaining this important concept to the public. Recently we found a brochure on the Carbon Cycle Institute’s website that has a great graphic and explanation of Carbon Farming. In the brochure, they talk about the importance of grasslands for carbon sequestration and the role that effective planned grazing has, among other practices, to improve soil health and the sequestering of carbon. At HMI, we have seen the results of many Holistic Management practitioners improving soil health and changing organic matter from 2% to 6% levels in a only a couple of years. These are the heroes of sustainable agriculture in my mind.

With the recent press release from the USDA noting how they will help promote soil health, interest in improving soil health is greater than ever. To view and download the brochure, click here.

New Certified Educator at HMI

Kathy Harris, Program Manager
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Kathy Harris, Holistic Management Certified Educaor, Texas

 

HMI is excited to announce our newest Holistic Management® Certified Educator, Kathy Harris. Kathy is not only a Program Manager here at HMI, but also a mentor in the Texas Beginning Women Farmer Program and has been team teaching in that program for 2 years. She successfully completed her learning portfolio and exit review with her Certification Team of Ann Adams, HMI Program Director, Peggy Maddox, Program Mentor, and Blain Hjertaas, HMI Technical Review Committee representative.

Kathy is passionate about learning and has seen first-hand the difference Holistic Management can make in people’s lives, so she is very excited about the opportunity she now has to provide more training and outreach as a Certified Educator working for HMI. Congratulations, Kathy!

Getting Started Holistic Grazing Planning Course Results

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HMI’s Online Learning Series Getting Started Holistic Grazing Planning course began in March 2015 with 27 participants from all around the world. This course focused on the key grazing planning principles and practices. Participants practiced the tools to hone in on such as critical grazing considerations, determining forage inventory, animal needs, and grazing and recovery periods before putting all these calculations into a written grazing plan. Based on the survey responses, here’s the changes that occurred:

Getting Started Holistic Grazing Planning Survey Results% Participants -Increased Knowledge or Confidence
Ability as a grazier 100%
Assessing recovery periods 100%
Assessing quantity of forage in a pasture 100%
Determining the number of animals your land can support for grazing 100%
Calculating the number of paddocks for your system 100%
Determining how long animals will stay in each paddock (residency rates/grazing periods)100%
Intend to complete or modify a written grazing plan as a result of this course 89%

Here’s what the participants had to say:

“Determining the appropriate number of paddocks was something that I never thought of before this course. I will find this tool very useful.”

“I now have a better understanding of the concept and more confidence in how to apply it.”

“I learned how to calculate stocking rate, stock density and forage capacity.”

“I learned how to properly design grazing and recovery periods.”

“I learned how to assess forage production and how to better achieve stock/land balance.”

Featured Participant:

john mayerJohn Mayer

I enrolled in the Getting Started Grazing Planning Course because I was having trouble figuring out how many cattle my 20 acres of land would support. In my area of central Texas. Local ranchers use 1 standard animal unit per 25 acres as a rough guide to determine stocking rate. I knew from reading articles and books on rotational grazing from Joel Salatin and Greg Judy that with smart practices in grazing management I could do better.  While the readings told me how to set up the infrastructure and manage a grazing operation, what I couldn’t find was how to figure paddock size; stocking, rotation, and recovery rates; and how to beat the inevitable drought periods for the grass I had. This course answered my questions perfectly and I’m confident that I now have the knowledge to start a sustainable cow/calf operation on my small acreage.

Using Grazing Animals to Increase Productivity and Profitability

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June 1, 2015dunblane 2
Dunblane Farm
Burragate, NSW, Australia

Australians, join us for a day of learning and fun at our Open Gate: Dunblane Farm Day in beautiful Burragate! We’ll discuss Holistic Management techniques using grazing animals to improve land productivity and water holding capacity and to advance soil health and much more and give you a chance to practice what we preach. You’ll also have to opportunity to network with people who use proven marketing practices in the area along with the Bega Farmers Network. Hurry and register – space is limted!

 

HMI Announces Open Gate in New Zealand

Mangarara Sheep cattle deer Apr 11
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We are very excited to announce our first Open Gate learning day in New Zealand! HMI is partnering with Succession and other local organizations to bring farmers and ranchers a day out on the land in Otane, Hakes Bay.

Amazing Grazing: Enhance Rainfall Absorption With Livestock

Mangarara Sheep cattle deer Apr 11Date:   Monday, May 11, 2015
Location: Mangarara Station, Otane, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Whether you are an agricultural producer, have an interest in how to market what you grow, or just interested in ranching, land stewardship and grassfed meats, this day is for you.

What to Expect

What’s the underlying issue for your property?

  • Lack of rainfall absorption and storage?
  • Growing season cut short by the dry?
  • Pastures lacking vitality?

Do you want…

  • Less stress grazing?
  • Greater resilence with adverse weather events?
  • To link up with experienced local grazing innovators?

Find out how grazing can:

  • Bring more freedom and less stress
  • Enhance rainfall effectiveness
  • Reduce pasture renovation
  • Lengthen growing seasons
  • Improve water quality
  • Deepen pasture roots
  • Eliminate erosion
  • Invigorate soils

Register Button Green LargeRegistration

Early Bird reigstration is $40.00 if you register by May 1st, otherwise $50.00.  Click here to register on the Succession website.

Presenters

  • Greg Hart
  • Malcolm White
  • Hannah Best
  • John King, Holistic Management Certified Educator

Click here for details and information on how to register.

Our first Open Gate in Mexico

Mexico OPen GATE, HMI, Holistic Management practitioenrs
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We are very excited to announce our first Open Gate learning day in Mexico! HMI is partnering with LIVES and other local organizations to bring ranchers a day out on the land in Sonora.

Regenerating Land through Livestock & Improved Soil Fertility

La Regeneracion de la Tierra a través de la Ganadería & Mejoramiento de la Fertilidad del Suelo

Open Gate: Rancho el Represo Del Verde Day
Friday, June/Junio 6, 2015
La Colorada, Sonora, Mexico   

Los agricultores, ganaderos y administradores de tierras están invitados a asistir a este gran evento. Ya sea que usted está criando ganado, o realizando alguna actividad agricola, encontrará útiles consejos y técnicas para construir una operación rentable y sostenible

At the Open Gate: Rancho el Represo Del Verde Day, you’ll…

  • Practice Holistic Planned Grazing
  • Understand the benefits of soil conservation practices
  • Learn how succession planning is an important part of annual planning
  • Explore how to improve your ability to market your products
  • Learn how to assess amount and quality of forage
  • Explore how determine your grazing plan priorities
  • Learn from other producers through small group exercises
  • Delve into soil fertility regeneration and culture
  • Network with other people interested in regenerative agriculture in your area
  • Practice intensive herding and the benefits for the land

Registration

$300 Pesos per person. Register/ Regístrese ahora on the LIVES RANCHO LA INMACULADA website.

Register Button Yellow Large

Presenters

  • Ivan Aurelio Aguirre Ibarra, Holistic Management Certified Educator
  • Marco Antonio Tarazón Maldonado, Manager, Rancho El Represo Del Verde
  •  Oscar Benson Rosas, Genetics & Livestock Reproduction Expert
  • Ana Bertha Zepeda, Livestock Expert

 

Sponsors 

Amigos 

Drought Mitigation Training in Texas Focuses on Improving Land Health

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Steve Nelle explaining about riparian health indicators along the Guadalupe River

Steve Nelle explaining about riparian health indicators along the Guadalupe River

The first session of HMI’s Drought Mitigation Land Management Workshop series was held at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area (WMA) on March 28-29th. The next session starts April 24th and registration is still open. To register, click here. There were 22 participants who manage over 51,000 acres.

At this session Holistic Management Certified Educator Peggy Sechrist opened the workshop with a brief description of HMI and the agenda and introduced the other presenters including Kerr WMA manager, Donnie Frels, range consultant Steve Nelle, and Dr. Richard Teague, range scientist with Texas AgriLife. Research

Dr. Richard Teague explaining the importance of improved upland grazing area health

Dr. Richard Teague explaining the importance of improved upland grazing area health

Dr. Richard Teague presented Planning for Drought: Upland Ecosystem Function, which included the need to define ourselves as regenerative and not just sustainable so that we are actually restoring ecosystem function. He said 90% of soil function is mediated by microbes. Microbes are dependent on plants, so how we manage plants is critical. Microbes need a moderate temperature; bare ground can exceed 140 degrees. He mentioned the function of termites in brittle environments is similar to the function of earthworms in non-brittle environments.

To improve soil health, we want to promote a shift to perennial plants, minimize bare ground, grow plants year around, ground cover year around.

Peggy Sechrist and Richard Teague at the Kerr Wildlife Center

Peggy Sechrist and Richard Teague at the Kerr Wildlife Center

Dr. Teague described the impact on the land/soil of continuous grazing and various other grazing strategies. The big take-aways were about “adaptive management” and the need for “multi-species” and increasing the “length of recovery” which has been previously underestimated, especially in drought and more brittle environments.  Always leaving 1/2 of your pasture for the sake of the soil.

Dr. Teague made it clear that it can take up to 10 to 15 years to see these changes in brittle environments.  He used examples from the Dixon Water Foundation Ranches management practices of limiting breeding, and keeping no more than 50% of breeding animals. In more brittle environments, he equated soil organic matter with water holding capacity and to profit.

Steve Nelle gave an introduction to Riparian Function giving the definitions of a perennial creek as a year around showing, a seasonal creek as water receding below surface during part of the year, and ephemeral creeks with no water table and showing water only during rainfall events.

He showed how we value running water for its sound, biodiversity, clean water, reliable supply, recreation and other aesthetics and pointed out that these riparian functions are only available if the riparian area is functioning properly, with soil, water, and vegetation working in harmony.

In a properly functioning riparian area, there is adequate vegetation to dissipate stream energy, stabilize banks, reduce erosion, trap sediment, build enlarge the floodplain, store water, offer floodwater retention, groundwater recharge, and sustain base flow. He talked of managing a watershed with run-off in water-shedding creeks vs managing for a water catchment to store and hold water, in water-catching creeks.

Participants learned about the difference between a properly functioning stream and one that is contributing to erosion. Vegetation is the key to the riparian recovery and health.  A meandering creek on a property is longer in length than one that flows straight. Nature intended them to curve and meander, not to go straight. The gradient is less with a meandering creek, slowing the flow and dissipating the energy. A creek flowing straight builds up energy and flows faster off a property taking sediment with it.

Participants did a reading the land outdoor exercise, observing different ecosystem processes, bacterially and fungal dominated soils, noticing trees, cover, water cycle, etc. Next Holistic Management educator CD Pounds gave a presentation on compost teas, and beneficial micro organisms that generated lots of good questions

The following day participants discussed monitoring and did an exercise outside in small groups. This activity was followed by a long walk looking at riparian condition of the North Fork of the Guadalupe river with Steve Nelle.

The workshop was well received, and according to evaluations 100% of respondents rated all aspects of it “excellent.”

Here is what participants had to say:

·       I am so appreciative of HMI and the presenters of this course. Although I have much to learn, this has really expanded my understanding.

·       I learned riparian management to fix my creek, and increased understanding of soil biology.

·       As an educational farm this will be extremely beneficial for our interns as well as just to monitor if our actions are helping us achieve our goals

·       I intend to spend more time on soil health to improve water content and organic content and biological activity below ground by reducing capping, bare ground and composting.

·       I came because I wanted to improve my damaged land but didn’t know how. I learned many ideas.

·       I learned Identification of problems, methods of improvement, and best practices.   

 

Outcome % of participants
Are you more confident in your ability to assess ecosystem function in riparian landscapes on your farm as a result of this course? 100%
Are you more confident in your ability to assess ecosystem function in upland landscapes on your farm as a result of this course? 100%
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 begin biological monitoring on your land to track your progress toward your goal or outcome? 100%
Increased knowledge of how riparian and upland landscapes function 100%
Increased knowledge of the value of setting up and collecting monitoring data to mitigate drought 100%
Increased knowledge of the value of building biological wealth during drought 93%

 

Roots of Resilience: Rejuvenating Grasslands through Grazing Management Conference with Dr. Richard Teague

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The Pacific Northwest Center for Holistic Management is holding a grazing conference where you can join ranchers, landowners, agency representatives, consultants and those who want to improve their grazing management skills and learn more about restoring grasslands with keynote speaker Dr. Richard Teague and others. Learn from experienced and informed ranchers and researchers on topics that include Water Quality and Riparian Management; Resilience, Recovery and Planning for Drought and Fire; Improving Soil Health & Carbon Sequestration; Planned Grazing for Profit and Productivity; Creating Resilience; Biological Monitoring and Plant ID; Programs and Services for Producers; and Rejuvenating Grasslands and Ranches in the Pacific Northwest. Following the conference, you have the option to attend one of two workshops on May 7, 2015 – Monitoring Grasslands or Holistic Planned Grazing.

May 6-7, 2015
Washington Family Ranch
Antelope, OR

To learn more and register, click here.

Open Gate: Triple Cross Farm Day

Christmas HMI hayride 2014
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Improving Water and Nutritional Cycles for Land, Animal and Human Health

June 6, 2015
Triple Cross Farm
Fruitvale, TX

Proper water usage and soil health are more important than ever – and key to healthy livestock and humans. Join Holistic Management Certified Educator Peggy Sechrist, Holistic Management practitioner C.D. Pounds and others for a day on the land where you can expect lots of learning, discussion and fun. This Open Gate learning day at Triple Cross Farm will cover soil monitoring and well as grazing practices to better support holistic land and water management. Whether you are an agricultural producer, local agency representative, or just interested in farming or ranching, land stewardship, and healthy food, this is a day for you. We’ll even have an evening campfire to end a day well spent!

For more details and to register >>