Oklahoma Holistic Planned Grazing Course Results

Bookmark and Share

pasture walksmHMI partnered with Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers Association to put on a 2-day Holistic Planned Grazing course near Hulbert, Oklahoma on August 22-23rd. The class included a pasture walk on Spring Forest Farm managed by Julie Gahn. The course was taught by HMI Certified Educator Peggy Sechrist. A diverse group of approximately 24 participants learned how and why to form a holistic goal, how ecosystem processes function and provide biological wealth, and specifically the tools of animal grazing and animal impact before diving into the grazing planning process.

The group was fortunate to have in attendance, Dr. Ann Wells, DVM and Dr. Ron Morrow, recently retired from NRCS as state grazing lands specialist. As working partners, Ann and Ron have been teaching a holistic approach to livestock grazing and management for many years. Their knowledge of the local forage species and growing conditions was invaluable to the group’s learning in an environment where the average annual rainfall is 48 inches.

As a result of this training and participant interest, the Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers Association expressed an interest in sponsoring more Holistic Management training in the near future. This training was made possible by funding from the USDA/NIFA Beginning Farmer/Rancher Development Program and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

Based on surveys participants were influenced the following ways by this event.

What the Participants Had to Say

“Learning the benefits of the soil food web and how to maximize the recovery period was very valuable.”

“I learned how to assess the health of a pasture and listen to my land.”

“The problems and challenges of every farm are distinct. Plans and observations are idiosyncratic. It’s important to be flexible but still make a plan.”

 

Question % Participants
Do you intend to develop or modify a grazing plan as a result of today’s event? 93%
Do you intend to change management practices as a result of this training 86%
Overall satisfaction with course (good or better) 93%

 

 Increased Knowledge Experienced  
The value of grazing planning 93%
How to assess recovery periods 100%
How to assess quantity of forage in a pasture 87%
How to improve land health with livestock 87%
How to determine the number of animals your pasture can support 93%
How to determine grazing periods 100%

 

 Increased Confidence Experienced  
Determining the number of animals your land can support for grazing 93%
Assessing recovery periods 87%
Determining how long animals will stay in each paddock (residency rates/grazing periods) 87%
Ability as a grazier 80%
Assessing quantity of forage in a pasture 80%
Calculating the number of paddocks for your system 80%
Ability to analyze ecosystem health 67%

 

 

 

2014 Maine Beginning Women Farmer Program Results

Beginning women farmers learn about grazing and animal husbandry as part of on-farm sessions
Bookmark and Share

We’ve just tabulated more results of our Beginning Farmers & Ranchers: Women in the Northeast & Texas program. These are from the 2013-2014 season in Maine. This program, funded by a grant from

On-farm learning activities as part of the Maine Beginning Women Farmer Soil Fertility session

On-farm learning activities as part of the Maine Beginning Women Farmer Soil Fertility session

the USDA/NIFA Beginning Farmer/Rancher Development Program, was coordinated by Gail Chase of Women’s Agricultural Network of Maine. This group finished their Holistic Management learning sessions in June and their final farm mentor visits in July. Lead instructors were Whole Farm Planning Instructors Gail Chase and Diane Schivera. Diane was also the mentor for the program as a collaboration with Maine Organic Gardeners and Farmers Association.

Of the participants responding to the final evaluation

  • 70% are currently farming
  • The average years of farming was 3 years
  • The average acres under production was 7 acres under production
  • The average age was 39 years old
  • The types of farm operations were as follows: Cattle/Cow/Calf (2), Vegetable/Fruit/Produce (4), Poultry (1), Goat (1), Pork (2), Flowers (2), Eggs (1).
  • The total customers of all participants was 72
  • 100% plan to continue farming

What Participants Had to Say:

“I now have tools to help me determine what enterprises to start.”

“I have better relationships with my customers because I needed to talk to each of them about raising prices. I learned how much they value my product.”

“Because of the class teachers and class members, I have much more confidence in my ability to really figure out my finances. I think this confidence has helped me approach wholesale markets.”

Some of the key outcomes noted were:

BWF PARTICIPANT BEHAVIOR CHANGE % of participants
Forge Relationships That Positively Impacted You 100%
Holistic Goal/Whole Farm Plan 100%
Financial Plan 100%
Marketing Plan 86%
Biological Monitoring 86%
Grazing Plan 50%
Business Plan 17%

 

 

Key Post Program Outcomes: Participants Experienced Increase In % Participants Experiencing Change
Satisfaction with Communication 100%
Satisfaction with Time Management 100%
Satisfaction with Ability to Determine Needed Profit 100%
Satisfaction with Ability to Make Complex Decisions 100%
Satisfaction with Quality of Life 83%
A layer hoophouse at Glass Horse Farm

A layer hoophouse at Glass Horse Farm

To read the full report, click here.

 

Connecticut Beginning Women Farmer Program Results

Bookmark and Share

ctsmWe’ve just tabulated more results of our Beginning Farmers & Ranchers: Women in the Northeast & Texas program. These are from the 2013-2014 season in Connecticut. This program, funded by a grant from the USDA/NIFA Beginning Farmer/Rancher Development Program, was coordinated by Deb Legge and Sherry Simpson of Connecticut Northeast Organic Farming Association. This group finished their Holistic Management learning sessions in May and their final farm mentor visits in July. Lead instructors were Certified Educators Seth Wilner and Phil Metzger and Whole Farm Planning Instructors Sherry Simpson and Crystal Stewart. Mentors for the program were Allyson Angelini, Christine Farrugia, and Phoebe Browning.

Of the participants responding

  • 75% are currently farming and 88% intend to continue to farm
  • The average years of farming was 2 years (range: 1 – 8 years)
  • The average acres under production was 2 acres under production (range: 0.25 – 5 acres)
  • The average age was 42 years old (range: 24 to 67 years old)
  • 75% of farm operations were:  Vegetable/Fruit/Produce.
  • The total customers of all participants: 76

woman tractorsmHere’s what some of the participants had to say and the results from this year’s program:

“I have a confidence in my own knowledge and ability to speak up regarding our homesteading.”

“I have enhanced the usage of our space due to our land plan.”

“We have developed a friendship with our mentor and a participant farmer nearby. They are both a wealth of information and excellent resources for us.”

Through this training, I’ve met many individuals willing to share their knowledge and passion of farming which has increased my own knowledge of farming immensely.”                                                  

All the individuals (peers and instructors/mentors) I have met during this class have taught me something, and have helped me unearth my own self confidence in myself along with the weaknesses I struggle with. And it feels wonderful to have a small group of people who have a similar mindset or love for farming, the land, and good food. All of this has nurtured the flame and love I have for this lifestyle I live.”   

I have folks that I can work with that are in the program and also some I have met through workshops I have learned about as a result of the program.”        

plantingTo read the full program results for Connecticut, click here.

 

Rancher hosts seminar on ranching success

Open ate JX Ranch Day, Tom Sidwell, HMI Holistic Management
Bookmark and Share

Our latest Open Gate learning day is in the news. It’s always good to see Holistic Management Practitioners and Open Gate Hosts like Tom Sidwell from JX Ranch  getting well deserved recognition in their areas.  Steve Hansen wrote an article in the Quay County County . Here’s an excerpt…

Quay Valley rancher Tom Sidwell has acquired a reputation as a successful user of agricultural practices that are considered sustainable and holistic, and on Saturday, he hosted a group of 50 like-minded farmers and ranchers from as far away as Oklahoma and Colorado to show them how he does it.

Sidwell not only showed them how, but how well he has succeeded by using new-age ranching techniques.

The bottom line: these techniques hold water—quite literally. His assigned subject for the day was successful ranching during a drought.  Read More….

If you are currently practicing Holistic Management on your farm or ranch and are interesting in possibly hosting an Open Gate day in your area, please contact Ann Adams, Director of Programs to find out more.

And if you would like to attend an Open Gate, check out the programs page to see this year’s schedule.

Open Gate: JX Ranch Day Shows Green

Bookmark and Share

The over 50 participants, who came to the Open Gate: JX Ranch Day south of Tucumcari, New Mexico on August 9th, looked around in wonder at all the green growing grass. While the JX Ranch has received 9 inches of rain this year, the amount of grass in this area that has struggled with drought since 2011 was very impressive.

Open Gate JX Ranch Day, Sustainable AGriculture, holistic management hmiAfter HMI’s Interim CEO Ann Adams opened up the event with orienting everyone to the agenda for the day, Tom Sidwell explained how they have been able to survive the drought by the practice of Holistic Management, effectively investing in infrastructure development, and improving the marketing of their animals. In particular, since 2004 the JX Ranch has put in 38,400 feet of pipeline, 11.5 miles of fence, new corrals, 12 livestock drinkers, 4 solar pumps and panels, 2 new wells, and 7 storage tanks (80,000 gallons total) , as well as clearing 1800 acres of mesquite and juniper. They have found willing partners in the NRCS (EQIP money) and the National Wild Turkey Federation to reduce the cost of these investments.

The results? Prior to the drought, the Sidwells increased their stocking rate by 40% and after destocking deeply during the drought, they still have a 25% increase in stocking rate as compared to what they were running in 2004. Due to tree clearing, their house well has increased by 500%, even through the drought.

The increased range productivity was evident to all participants as we broke into small groups to practice forage inventorying and discuss grazing practices and how much to have animals graze and why. Group participants shared their experience then we headed back to the ranch house for a great lunch from Jimmy Watson’s Barbeque. At the end of lunch Susann Mikkelson of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union explained to participants the value of cooperatives and the assistance that RMFU can provide to producers.

Open ate JX Ranch Day, Tom Sidwell, HMI Holistic ManagementIn the afternoon we continued stepping through the grazing calculations before Scott Lerich of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Tish McDaniel of the Nature Conservancy, Jake Swofford of Quails Forever, and Amy Erickson talked about how good ranch practices can improve wildlife habitat as well as livestock forage. We discussed how wildlife can be an additional enterprise for some ranches. We then went out to the field again to do some on the ground biological monitoring and talking about indicators of soil and wildlife habitat health. The small group discussions were lively again with lots of information shared.

We ended the day with a discussion on profitable marketing. Laurie Bower of the Southwest Grassfed Livestock Alliance talked about how SWGLA assists grassfed producers, then Mimi Sidwell talked about how she grew her grassfed customer base and how they maintained it during the drought. Lastly, Jack and Tuda Crews talked about the New Mexico Beef program they are involved in and how they are able to get the premiums they want from that program.

Participants managed over 240,000 acres and were influenced the following ways by this event.

Participant Comments

“Very educational! Great balance of hand on/lecture.”
“Very nicely put together. I really enjoyed the out in the field trips and looking at all the ground cover.”
“I liked how open the environment was.”
“Great networking event. Good to look at some pasture.”

Slide Show

(hover over the photo to see the caption)

  1. Biological Monitoring
  2. Gathering Samples
  3. Dr. Ann Adams from HMI leads transects excercise
  4. Attendees break out into smaller groups for excercises
  5. Land Planning Discussion
  6. Open Gate Days always allow for time to meet and discuss agricultural production issues with others
  7. Open Gates include a delicious locally sourced lunch
  8. Tom Sidwell from the JX Ranch explains his operations
  9. Open Gates always include a variety of presenters knowledgeble about the local area
  10. Local ranchers discuss ranching in New Mexico
  11. Open Gate days are always full of valuable information

Data

Question% Participants
Would you recommend this event to others?100%
Did you expand your learning network of people and resources100%
Do you intend to complete a biological monitoring on your land as a result of today's event?100%
Do you intend to develop or modify a grazing plan as a result of today's event? 89%
Increased Knowledge Experienced% Participants
On how to determine land health64%
On how to improve ranch profitability62%
Of the value of grazing planning for drought mitigation59%
On determining plant recovery 55%
On grazing strategies to survive drought50%
Increased Confidence in Ability to...% Participants
Determine land health83%
Determine appropriate grazing strategies83%
Determine plant recovery75%
Create a grazing plan71%
Monitor ecosystem health71%
Determine appropriate infrastructure development71%
Analyze ecosystem health67%

 

Thanks

Thanks to Tom and Mimi Sidwell for opening the JX Ranch gate to all our participants. Thanks also to the Thornburg Foundation for their support of this event and to our sponsors, Southwest Quay SWCD, the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Southwest Grassfed Livestock Alliance, the National Wild Turkey Federation, The Nature Conservancy, and the Canadian River SWCD

Be sure to check out the Open Gate page for a complete listing of learning days scheduled this year.

Should you diversify your ranch?

bar lazy s ranch, Holistic Management practitioners, new mexico
Bookmark and Share

Come to your next Open Gate learning day to find out what it takes to manage a small diversified ranch.  We’ve just opened up registration for another  peer-to-peer learning event  at the Bar Lazy S Ranch in New Mexico. Out last Open Gate learning day  in New Mexico sold out, so please be sure to register soon!

Developing a Small Diversified Ranch

September 19, 2014
Bar Lazy S Ranch
Los Lunas, New Mexico

Whether you are an agricultural producer, horse owner, local food consumer, agency representative, or just interested in land stewardship and local food and small farms, this is a day for you.

At the Open Gate: Bar Lazy S Ranch Day, you’ll…

  • See what fellow land managers are doing to maintain land health and profitability in a changing environment
  • Learn about small acreage management in a desert environment
  • Learn indicators of good soil health and pollinator habitat
  • Gain enterprise analysis skills to increase profitability
  • Understand how effective land planning can maximize resources
  • Learn the advantages of cooperatives for producing and marketing
  • Discuss the importance of a whole ranch goal and value-based decision-making to improve land owner’s quality of life
  • Hear how Holistic Management enables producers to better manage risk, make better decisions and enjoy the benefits of sustainable agriculture.

Get the full details and register now.

Program Results from New York

Bookmark and Share

We’ve just tabulated more results of our Beginning Farmers & Ranchers: Women in the Northeast & Texas program. These are from the 2013-2014 season in New York. This program, funded by a grant from the NY Beginning women farmer, HOlistic management practitionerUSDA/NIFA Beginning Farmer/Rancher Development Program, was coordinated by Sarah Williford of Central New York RC&D. This group finished their Holistic Management learning sessions in April and their final farm mentor visits in July. Lead instructors were Holistic Management Certified Educators Phil Metzger, Erica Frenay, and Elizabeth Marks. Additional instructors included Crystal Stewart. Mentors for the program were Tricia Park, Kylie Spooner, Rebeca Torres Rose, and Amie Collins

Testimonials

“Meeting and talking with other farmers has allowed me to improve my understanding of what is involved in small scale farming.”
“I find that the mix of women in the class I attended to be smart, savvy and determined this positive chemistry can only be of benefit to others whether it be for moral support, help with testing questions or giving an issue a different perspective.”
“The program has given me ideas and motivation and helped me become more involved in my community.”
“I got connections with local farmers to help me continue to practice Holistic Management.”
“The farmer network and experienced resources are invaluable.”

Demographic Information

Beginning Women Farmer graduates Holistic ManagementOf the 9 participants who completed the final survey:

  • 8 are currently farming
  • The average years of farming was 4 years
  • The average acres under production was 55 acres under production
  • The average age was 47 years old
  • The types of farm operations were as follows: Cattle/Cow/Calf (2), Vegetable/Fruit/Produce (3), Poultry (1), Pigs (1), Sheep (1), Dairy (1), Honey (1), Hay (2), Education (1), Hops (1).
  • The total customers of all participants: 107
  • 100% of participants intend to keep farming

If you are a beginning women farmer in the Northeast, or know someone that is, be sure to check out our 2014-2015 enrollment page  as we are now accepting applications for the upcoming season.

You can find out statistical details from the program  here.

Getting Started Holistic Grazing Planning Course Results

Bookmark and Share

Bishopp Farm

HMI’s Online Learning Series Getting Started Holistic Grazing Planning course began in May 2014 with 22 participants from all around the world. This course focused on key grazing planning principles and practices. The participants were excited to improve their ability to observe and understand critical grazing considerations, determining forage inventory, animal needs, along with grazing and recovery periods before putting all these calculations into a written grazing plan.

After surveying the participants who completed the Getting Started Holistic Grazing Planning course, all of the participants experienced knowledge and behavior changes with:

Getting Started Holistic Grazing Planning Evaluation Results
Knowledge/Behavior and Confidence Increase % Increase
The value of grazing planning 100%
How to assess recovery periods 100%
How to improve land health with livestock 100%
How to determine the number of paddocks 100%
How to determine grazing periods 100%
Assessing quantity of forage in a pasture 100%
Determining the number of animals your land can support for grazing 100%
% of Participants
Do you intend to complete or modify a written grazing plan as a result of today’s session? 100%
Do you intend to change any management practices as a result of this session? 100%
Overall Satisfaction of the course 100%

 

 

 

WSARE Grazing Planning Course a Success

Bookmark and Share

77-Ranch-cows-in-bluebonnetsSMALL

HMI completed our third online course as part of our Whole Farm/Ranch Planning Program for Agricultural Educators funded by The Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (WSARE) Professional Development Program. The Holistic Grazing Planning course began in April 2014 with 26 participants from 10 different states. This course provides key grazing planning principles and practices to help participants facilitate conversations with producers about grazing planning and implementation. This simple approach to grazing planning helps agricultural educators and producers hone in on critical grazing considerations, determine forage inventory, animal needs, and grazing and recovery periods. After gathering all of the information and putting together their calculations, participants created a written grazing plan.

After surveying the participants in the WSARE Grazing Planning course, a high number of participants experienced knowledge and behavior changes as noted below.

HMI thanks WSARE for their funding of this program.

WSARE Land Planning Evaluation Results
Knowledge/Confidence Increase % Increase
How to assess recovery periods 80%
How to assess quantity of forage in a pasture 80%
How to determine grazing periods 87%
How to determine the number of animals your pasture can support 93%
How to determine the number of paddocks 93%
Behavior Change         % of Participants
Increased confidence in assessing quantity of forage in a pasture 80%
Increased confidence in determining the number of animals your land can support for grazing 80%
Increased confidence in determining how long animals will stay in each paddock 80%
Do you intend to complete or modify a written grazing plan as a result of today’s session? 87%
Do you intend to change any management practices as a result of this session? 92%
Overall Satisfaction of the course 100%

 

What the Participants Said:

“Getting your ‘system’ down on paper helps immensely in understanding a complex grazing plan.”

 

“I am finding I am better able to communicate with my clients greater purpose in grazing management planning and further subdividing current management units in such a way that provides a space and place for curiosity from my client and allows for even broader conversations than prior to this class; I’ve been witnessing a change in some of my somewhat resistant clients. It seems I have made a change in the way I present myself or a concept that allows them to dig deeper into being more vulnerable around their management strategies and investigating, in conversation, changes that they would be willing to explore.”

 

“I’m more comfortable with the numbers and the math via the spreadsheet and interpreting it with “on-the” ground management”

 

“I learned how to assess forage quality and quantity, animal performance and how to calculate paddock size and ADA.”

 

“I really enjoyed the resources and was able to share many of them with co-workers and clients.”

Featured Participant

Maggie Matoba

Maggie Matoba “I have nothing but praises for HMI’s Grazing Planning class that I just  completed this past spring.  If there was any fault, I wish the course was a little  longer, because there was so much to absorb and learn.  We were given the  tools to improve our skills (and to help other ranchers and farmers) to more  effectively manage grazing resources and increase the ability to make more  informed decisions utilizing HMI’s whole farm/ranch goal-setting and  ecosystem processes.  With these tools and through observation and better  understanding of these type of grazing practices, I am better equipped to  advise my clients and students (as an agriculture educator) as to how to  improve their grazing management skills and enable them to increase their  productivity.  I feel more knowledgeable about how to work with nature and to maintain environmental sustainability, while being able to focus also on how to effectively make decisions to maximize positive financial gains.

 

With this course, as with the other courses in the HMI Program, real-time application will be the next step, in order to synthesize these concepts that I have learned and put them into practice.  I look forward to be working with farmers and ranchers in the area and introduce them to these exciting approaches in agriculture! “

 

Agriculture Business Management Advisor & Horticultural Therapist– Eugene, Oregon

 

 

Want to improve your land, animal & water health?

Holistic Managment Rendezvous 2014, Texas, HMI
Bookmark and Share

If you do, you’ll want to attend our next Open Gate day. This one will be in Marfa, Texas. Open Gates are on-farm/ranch learning days  that are held on the land throughout the U.S. Each day is hosted by an experienced Holistic Management practitioner and features numerous innovative and sustainable agricultural topics and practices.  We’ve had a few our Open Gates sell out this year, so be sure to register soon for this important event.

Dixon Mimms Unit Open Gate HOlistic ManagementSeptember 13, 2014
Dixon Ranches Mimms Unit
Marfa, Texas
 

Whether you are an agricultural producer, wildlife manager, local agency representative, or just interested in sustainability, drought mitigation and biological research findings, this is a day for you. Sul Ross State University students will also find this well worth their time.

  • Learn effective ranching techniques to improve rangeland productivity, water holding capacity, soil health, and wildlife habitat
  • Improve land monitoring skills
  • Connect with folks from the local sustainable ag and ranching communities
  • Understand key soil health indicators and ways to improve soil
  • Shorten your learning curve by talking to producers who have improved stocking rates by implementing grazing strategies to improve water infiltration and land productivity.
  • Better understand the effects of wildfire on soil health and how to mitigate its effects
  • Hear how Holistic Management enables producers to better manage risk, make better decisions and enjoy the benefits of sustainable agriculture

Learn More and Register Now