Beginning Women Farmer in Texas 2015 Report

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Beginning women farmers in Texas take turns explaining their land plan options in experiential exercises.

Beginning women farmers in Texas take turns explaining their land plan options in experiential exercises.

HMI’s 2015 Beginning Farmers & Ranchers: Women in the NE & Texas program funded by the USDA/NIFA Beginning Farmer/Rancher Development Program, has been going full steam through the winter and spring with some states beginning to wrap up. The Texas program coordinated by HMI’s Program Manager, Peggy Cole, completed all 10 sessions by the end of February. Lead instructor was Holistic Management Certified Educator Peggy Sechrist and mentors for the program were Tracy Litle, Lauri Celella, Kathy Harris, Pam Mitchell, Lauren Bradbury, and Katherine Napper, and CD Pounds. We’ve been busy entering the data and crunching the numbers. Thanks to the USDA/NIFA BFRDP for their support of this program.

Here’s what we’ve learned from our 33 Texas participants who graduated:

Land Planning exercise during Beginning Women Farmer Training

Land Planning exercise during Beginning Women Farmer Training

Demographics

Of the 28 participants responding

  • 27 are currently farming and all plan to continue farming
  • The average years of farming was 4 years (range: 0.2 to 9 years)
  • The average acres under production was 89 acres under production (range: 0.5 to 500 acres) with a total of 2569 under production
  • The average age was 47 years old (range: 24 to 75 years old)
  • The total retail customers of all participants was : 624 and 18 wholesale customers
  • 33 participants were trained and 32 graduated for a 97% graduation rate
  • Overall satisfaction of the program was an average of 94%
Beginning women farmers in Texas explore land planning options

” Beginning women farmers in Texas explore land planning options

Here’s what the participants had to say:

“The network has introduced resources and expertise I may never have encountered.”

“The network has supported me in many ways. With my mentor – my mentor supports me and assists me with such unparalleled generosity and expertise and kindness. She is an invaluable gift. With my mentee team – my fellow mentees are also great supports.”

“I think the relationships I made here have saved my mental health and will greatly enhance my effectiveness as a person for as long as I live.”

“The suggestions from others are invaluable. Seeing what others are doing helps generate ideas.”

“In the BWF network we have teamed up, borrowed equipment, bought/sold equipment & goods/services, exchanged information, troubleshooting, delivered programming, met with 3rd party & mutual friends, been introduced to new clients, etc.”

“My mentor visits are very helpful! Great ideas & knowledge!”

“It helps to know my decisions and goals are shared by others who also struggle to succeed – and some have made it!”

“My mentor will walk the land with me to help me understand our next steps.”

“The relationships w/fellow classmates is incredible.”

“I have made connections that led to borrowing equipment free of charge, volunteer labor and new customer base.”

“I feel like the class provided an inspiring network of other beginning & established farms & ranches with a wealth of knowledge & resource. Learned of new mentors & programs.”

“I know I can turn to many of these women, especially in my management club, with questions or for help in need. To have this support is invaluable.”

 

Katherine Napper Ottmer reviewing the testing questions during a land planning class.

Katherine Napper Ottmer reviewing the testing questions during a land planning class.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Results of Surveys

BWF PARTICIPANT BEHAVIOR CHANGE (completion of plans) % of participants
Holistic Goal/Whole Farm Plan 97%
Financial Plan 93%
Business Plan 78%
Marketing Plan 81%
Land Plan 100%
Biological Monitoring 90%
Grazing Plan (grazers in group) 95%
Forge Relationships That Positively Impacted You 100%

 

Tracy Litle explains concepts of brainstorming options during land planning

Tracy Litle explains concepts of brainstorming options during land planning

Post-Program Outcome Changes
Topic % Participants ExperiencingChange
Increased satisfaction with Quality of Life 79%
Increased satisfaction with Communication 86%
Increased satisfaction with Time Management 86%
Increased satisfaction with Ability to Determine Needed Profit 93%
Increased satisfaction with Ability to Make Complex Decisions 97%

 

 

Post-Session Impacts Achieved Percent of Participants
Human Resource Management  
Clearer sense of what you are managing towards 100%
Better Ability to Determine Resources Available to You 100%
More Efficient Use of Resources 90%
Improved Communications on the Farm 86%
Improved Decision Making 90%
New Policies and Systems Implemented 83%
Better Relationships 79%
Financial Resource Management  
Increased Farm Profits 21%
Increased Net Worth 21%
Increased Gross Income as result of training 43%
Ability to Identify Business Challenges from Previous Years 76%
Strategies for More Effective Reinvestment in the Business 83%
New or Improved Record Keeping Systems 76%
Enhanced Understanding of Your Farm Finances 79%
Changes in How Your Prioritize Expenses 83%
Reduced Farm Expenses 38%
Improved Ability to Prioritize Land Planning Investments 86%
Improved Ability to Incorporate Social, Environmental, and Financial into Your Land Plan 86%
Improved Ability to Articulate Goals and Objectives of Business to Others 83%
Improved Understanding of your Market and How Your Business Fits In 69%
Prioritized investments 66%
Improved ability to determine most effective enterprises 76%
Improved ability to effectively market products 62%
Natural Resource Management  
Achievement of Environmental Goals in Your Land Plan 48%
Increased Forage Production 24%
Reduction in Feed Costs 43%
Improved Environmental Conditions 48%
Improved Herd Health 43%
Improved Ability to Manage Animals 81%
Less Stress for Farmers 52%
Less Stress for Animals 52%
Longer Grazing Seasons 24%
Reduction of Overgrazed Plants 48%
Improved Understanding of Your Farm’s Eco-System 100%
Improved Ability to Determine Appropriate Management to Address an Environmental Issue 86%
Implementation of Specific Management Practices to Remediate an Environmental Issue 79%
Improved Understanding of Your Forage Composition 83%
Improved Environmental Conditions on Your Farm 59%
Desired Change in Species Composition 55%

 

Knowledge Change Summary Per Session
Course % Participants Experiencing Knowledge Change
Session One – Goal Setting
Defining Effective Management Team 85%
Inventory Farm Resources 85%
Develop a Whole Farm Goal 94%
Define What You Are Managing Towards 85%
Identify Needed Farm Systems and Protocols 79%
Integrate Social, Economic, and Environmental Factors into Decision-Making 94%
Session Two – Time Management
Ability to Make Complex On-Farm Decisions 97%
Assess How Time is Spent on Farm 100%
Understanding Seasonal Time Demands/Flows 88%
Effectively Manage Time on Your Farm 97%
Session Three – Financial Planning I
Attitude Toward Financial Planning 76%
Ability to Develop Balance Sheet 83%
How to Increase Farm Net Worth 86%
Determining Viable Profitable Enterprises for Your Farm 93%
Determining Your Farm’s Projected Revenue 90%
Identifying Logjams and Adverse Factors on Farm 97%
Session Four – Financial Planning II  
Skills in Developing Whole Farm Financial Plan 100%
Getting Profit You Need from Your Farm 88%
Delineating Farm Expense Categories 88%
Prioritizing and Cutting Farm Expenses to Guide Reinvestment 92%
Assessing Farm Cash Flow 92%
Monitoring Your Financial Plan 92%
Session Five – Marketing  
Using Whole Farm Goal and Financial Plan to Develop Marketing Plan 100%
Profitably Price Products and Services 93%
Effectively Promote Products and Services 86%
Marketing Outreach Towards Your Whole Farm Goal 93%
How to Develop a Marketing Plan 86%
Session Six – Business Planning
Knowledge of Resources for Developing Strategic Plan for Farm 93%
Attitudes Towards Value of Having a Business Plan to Guide Farm 74%
Ability to Develop a Business Plan for Farm 89%
Ability to Use Holistic Goal to Guide Business Strategic Plan 96%
Ability to Use Financial Plan to Determine Viable Markets for Farm 89%
Ability to Implement Systems and Projects to Move Towards Whole Farm Goal 89%
Session Seven – Leadership and Communication
Effective Communication Tools for Farm 85%
Conflict Resolution Skills for Farm 85%
Incorporating Diverse Learning Styles toward More Effective Leadership and Communication 85%
Using Whole Farm Goal to Guide Communication on Farm 85%
Session Eight – Land Planning
Prioritize Land and Infrastructure Development/Investments 84%
Design Strategies to Build Resilient, Diversified Farms 97%
Assess Management Considerations to Guide Land Planning 87%
How to Incorporate Natural Resource Issues into Land Planning 87%
How to Incorporate Social/Legal/Contractual into Land Planning 81%
Session Nine – Grazing
Value of Grazing Planning 89%
How to Assess Recovery Periods 100%
How to Assess Quantity of Forage in Pasture 96%
How to Improve Land Health with Livestock 100%
How to Determine Number of Animals Your Pasture Can Support 93%
How to Determine the Number of Paddocks 96%
How to Determine Grazing Periods 100%
Session Ten – Soil Fertility
Importance of Improving Soil Fertility Sustainably 71%
Value of Organic Matter in Soils 79%
Benefits of a Covered Soil 82%
Benefits of Biodiversity 79%
Indicators of a Healthy Farm Eco-System 86%
Ability to Monitor Farm Eco-System Health 96%

 

Increased Confidence as a Result of Session % of participants
Developing Written Whole Farm Goal 94%
Identifying Systems and Protocols for your Farm 82%
Manage Your Time on Your Farm 100%
Make Complex Decisions on Your Farm 97%
Using Testing Questions for On Farm Analysis 97%
Determine Your Farm’s Net Worth 83%
Increase Your Farm’s Net Worth 69%
Determine Viable Profitable Enterprises 76%
Getting Profit You Need From Your Farm 65%
Prioritizing Cutting Farm Expenses to Guide Re-investment 69%
Determining Weak Link in Farm Enterprises 81%
Identifying Cash Flow Issues on Farm 73%
Pricing Your Farm Products 72%
Promoting Your Farm Products 90%
Developing a Marketing Plan that Meets Your Farm’s Needs and Goals 83%
Assessing Your Competition to Understand Your Farm’s Strengths 66%
Developing a Business/Strategic Plan 89%
Identifying Resources to Assist You in Developing a Business/Strategic Plan 89%
Implementing Important Strategic Systems and Projects 89%
Communicating with Decision Makers 81%
Communicating with Farm Workers 81%
Providing Leadership on Your Farm 78%
Ability to Prioritize Land/Infrastructure Improvements on Farm 94%
Ability to Incorporate Natural Resource Issues into Land Planning 94%
Ability to Incorporate Social/Legal Considerations into Land Planning 71%
Ability as a Grazer 89%
Assessing Recovery Periods 81%
Assessing Quantity of Forage and Pasture 81%
Determining the Number of Animals Your Land Can Support for Grazing 78%
Calculating the Number of Paddocks for your System 78%
Determining How Long Animals Will Stay in Each Paddock 74%
Monitoring Your Farm’s Eco-System Health 100%
Improving Eco-System Health on Your Farm 89%
Building Organic Matter in Your Soils 79%

 

                       

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%

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

Getting Started Holistic Land Planning Course Results

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HMI’s Getting Started Holistic Land Planning online course began in January 2015 with 21 participants from all around the world. The course was co-taught by Certified Educators Roland Kroos and Ann Adams. This course focused on the key holistic land planning design principles and practices to allow participants to more effectively manage all their resources.

This simple approach to land planning helped the participants explore key infrastructure/land improvement projects in the context of their whole farm/ranch goal to better analyze design possibilities for improved return on investment. Participants developed management consideration lists, land plan options and explored tool options and the return on investment of the different land planning options using the Holistic Management decision making framework and considering how such options will affect land productivity.

70% of the participants are currently farming and were eager to explore numerous land planning principles and practices, giving feedback to each other through the discussion forum.

Participants noted increased knowledge, behavior and confidence with the following topics:

  • How to prioritize land/infrastructure development/investments
  • Design strategies that can build resilient, diversified farms
  • How to assess management considerations to guide land planning
  • How to incorporate natural resources issues on your farm into land planning
  • How to incorporate social/legal/contractual considerations into land planning
  • How permaculture methods fit into Holistic Land Planning
  • The ability to prioritize land or infrastructure improvements on a farm/ranch
  • The ability to incorporate farm natural resources issues into land planning
  • The ability to incorporate social/legal considerations into land planning

Here’s what the participants had to say about the course and what they learned and explored:

“Definitely learning to use Google Earth for this course will be a huge asset for my farm planning in the future.”

“[The most useful thing I learned was] using computer programs and physical maps for planning.”

“I like the permaculture idea of designing to the desired condition, not fighting against the existing one.”

“I relate really well to the Zone idea. I practice that at home and it is really effective in making decisions that ease management of the spaces and makes life much more enjoyable.”

“The financial weak link seems like an outstanding way to prioritize projects and enterprises and to enable one to address all the important factors.”

“Learning about SMART goals is very helpful.  I will keep a notebook and use the formats presented in the week’s lessons.”

“Prioritization makes implementation of land/infrastructure easier because it gives a plan of attack and what to hit first.”

Featured Participant:

Untitled Chantal Gagnon

“HMI’s Getting Started Holistic Land Planning Course helped me turn  my future goals for my property into a working plan. The course  allowed me to prioritize projects based on return on investments and  how they addressed my holistic goal. I like the ‘go slow to go fast’  ideology that was introduced to me in this course. I will definitely be  using this advice as I start to implement changes on my land to suit its future purpose.”

Kentucky Holistic Planned Grazing Event

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Texas.cows.Droughtsmall

Introduction to Holistic Planned Grazing

If you are near Kentucky, you’ll want to take advantage of this opportunity to learn about Holistic Planned Grazing. Joshua Dukart, a Holistic Management Certified Educator and grazier, will be facilitating this one-day program on October 16th. The program runs from 10 am to 3:30 pm and includes lunch. It will be held at the KYSU Research and Demonstration Farm inFrankfort, KY

This program will cover an introduction to Holistic Planned Grazing and how it can benefit your farm. Participates will receive material to help them plan and manage their grazing in a more sustainable manner while improving productivity of the land and improving soil health.

Directions to KYSU Research and Demonstration Farm:

From Frankfort, travel south on Rt. 127. Cross I-64, then turn left (east) at an intersection with a Chevron gas station, a traffic light, and a “Kentucky State University Research Farm” sign. Follow Mills Lane east for 1.5 miles. The farm is on the right, marked with a green and yellow sign.

No need to register, just get to the event at little earlier. There is no cost for the program.

For more information contact Ken Andries
Office: 502-597-5094
Email: [email protected]

WSARE Biological Monitoring Course Accomplishment

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HMI completed our fourth 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 Biological Monitoring course began in July 2014 with 28 participants from 9 different states. The instructor for the WSARE Biological Monitoring course was Holistic Management Certified Educator Phil Metzger. Phil Metzger is a natural resources development consultant having recently retired from a 32-year career as a resource conservationist for the USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

This course provided key biological monitoring principles and practices to help facilitate conversations with producers about soil fertility and how production practices are influencing that fertility. Monitoring techniques for rangelands, pastures, and croplands were discussed. Participants mastered a simple approach to natural resource issue diagnosis based on monitoring data, past production practices, and potential new production practices that will address the resource issue profitably. The purpose of the course was to help agricultural educators and producers have a viable way to collect data and analyze their land. The participants learned to recognize the impact of prior decisions on the land and to observe and use ecosystem functions to increase land performance.

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

HMI thanks WSARE for their funding of this program.

Knowledge/Behavior and Confidence Increase% Increase
How to inventory your farm resources 80%
Ability to integrate social, economic and environmental factors into your decisions82%
Your ability to understand ecosystem health 82%
Your ability to assess ecosystem health 100%
Intend to develop a whole farm goal100%
Overall satisfaction of the course 100%
Behavior Change% of Participants
Increased confidence in ability to monitor your farm's ecosystem health100%
Increased confidence in ability to improve the ecosystem health on your farm100%
Increased confidence in how to build organic matter in your soils89%
Do you intend to conduct biological monitoring as a result of today's session?89%
Do you intend to change any management practices as a result of this session?89%
Overall Satisfaction of the course (good to excellent)100%

What the Participants Said:

“I am able to better organize strategies for implementing a more thorough monitoring system on the farm.”

“I loved the hands-on monitoring and want to learn more about monitoring and to practice it more!”

“Overall the course was excellent, very interactive with participants really participating. The feedback on assignments from Phil was very useful, and in some instances inspired me to “re-do”, or at least go take another look.”

“I think this [knowledge] will be very useful when I am working with producers and even just small acreage land owners that are looking to have better land stewardship practices.”

“[Most useful thing I learned was] how to monitor ecosystem processes, and the importance of observing the soil surface.”

“The monitoring is something that I have never learned about before. I think this will be very useful when I am working with producers and even just small acreage land owners that are looking to have better land stewardship practices.”

“I liked the actual methods for monitoring.”

“I really liked that the holistic process was tied into the monitoring; helped to reinforcing the subject matter.”

“Biological Monitoring is a huge subject and I thought this was very well-presented and succinct.”

Featured Participant

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Julie Elliott

“I commented to Phil that I could not do 100 points of the Range Monitoring and he congratulated me for sticking it out to 50 as he usually only does 25!  It’s actually quite a relief to learn that it’s o.k. that I don’t collect tons of data- I can use my experience and judgment to determine if more points will garner a wider variety of information. Also, I like the range monitoring sheet and looking at insect and rodent activity on a ‘micro’ scale.  What happens on the micro level may tell me more about the condition of the ecological processes than looking at the range on the macro level.”

 

 

Getting Started Holistic Grazing Planning Course Results

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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

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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

 

 

2013 Massachusetts Beginning Women Farmer Program Report

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Massachusetts 2013 Beginning Women Farmer Participants

HMI is excited to report on the data we have collected from our Beginning Women Farmer Training Program in Massachusetts which began in November 2012 and ran through May of 2013. This program was part of HMI’s Beginning Women Farmer Program funded by the USDA/NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. 15 women were accepted into the program for the 2012-2013 program year and 13 graduated. The State Coordinator position was shared by Devon Whitney-Deal and Kristen Wilmer of Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture. Program mentor was Katie Campbell-Nelson of University of Massachusetts.

The data below demonstrates that a high level of knowledge and attitude change occurred and that the women completed or modified numerous farm plans (actual behavior change) which resulted in many benefits. 80% or more of the participants developed a whole farm goal, a financial plan, and a grazing plan.

Also of note, an extremely high percentage of participants reported increased satisfaction with aspects of farming including higher quality of life (80%), better communication (89%), improved time management (89%), increased ability to determine profit (100%), and improved ability to make complex decisions (100%).

The top ten post-session impacts realized by participants are:

  • Clearer sense of what farm is managing towards (100%)
  • Better ability to determine resources available for management (91%)
  • Improved decision-making (82%)
  • Improved understanding of your farm’s eco-system (82%)
  • Improved ability to articulate goals and objectives of business to others (73%)
  • Improved ability to determine appropriate management practices to remediate an environmental issue (73%)
  • Changes in how you prioritize expenses (73%)
  • New record keeping systems (73%)
  • Improved ability to incorporate social, environmental, and financial information into land plan (73%)
  • Enhanced Understanding of Your Farm Finances (64%)

Harms Family Farm Tour

There was an 86% satisfaction rating for the program mentor and a 94% satisfaction rating for the state coordinator. In 9 out of the 10 sessions 82% or more of the participants noted knowledge change. That knowledge change varied depending on content of sessions, but was as high as 84%. Overall satisfaction with sessions were 89% or higher for 9 out of 10 sessions with 86% of the participants satisfied with the program overall.

Participant Demographic Information

Of the 15 participants, 11 completed the final survey from which we were able to gather the following information.

  • The average years of farming was 4 years (range: 0 – 10 years)
  • The average acres farmed was 4 acres under production (range:.25 – 14 acres)
  • The average age of the farmers was 39 years old (range: 23 – 58)
  • The race the participants reported was: 7 Anglo; and 4 left the query blank
  • The total customers of all participants was 456

 

Knowledge Change Summary Per Session

Course

% Participants Experiencing

Knowledge Change

% of knowledge change

Session One – Goal Setting
Develop a Whole Farm Goal

93%

62%

Define What You Are Managing Towards

93%

52%

Inventory Farm Resources

86%

38%

Integrate Social, Economic, and Environmental Factors into Decision-Making

71%

41%

Defining Effective Management Team

64%

29%

Identify Needed Farm Systems and Protocols

64%

40%

Session Summary

93%

 

Session Two – Time Management
Effectively Manage Time on Your Farm

79%

37%

Assess How Time is Spent on Farm

79%

46%

Ability to Make Complex On-Farm Decisions

86%

39%

Understanding Seasonal Time Demands/Flows

71%

32%

Session Summary

100%

 

Session Three – Financial Planning I
Identifying Logjams and Adverse Factors on Farm

93%

44%

Attitude Toward Financial Planning

87%

40%

Ability to Develop Balance Sheet

73%

39%

How to Increase Farm Net Worth

73%

52%

Determining Viable Profitable Enterprises for Your Farm

67%

36%

Session Summary

100%

 

Session Four – Financial Planning II

 

 

Skills in Developing Whole Farm Financial Plan

100%

81%

Getting Profit You Need from Your Farm

93%

84%

Delineating Farm Expense Categories

93%

63%

Assessing Farm Cash Flow

93%

71%

Monitoring Your Financial Plan

93%

76%

Prioritizing and Cutting Farm Expenses to Guide Reinvestment

87%

62%

Session Summary

100%

 

Session Five – Marketing    
Using Whole Farm Goal and Financial Plan to Develop Marketing Plan

90%

41%

Effectively Promote Products and Services

90%

38%

Understanding Your Competition

90%

33%

How to Develop a Marketing Plan

90%

42%

Marketing Outreach Towards Your Whole Farm Goal

80%

58%

Session Summary

100%

 

Session Six – Business Planning
Ability to Use Holistic Goal to Guide Business Strategic Plan

82%

32%

Ability to Use Financial Plan to Determine Viable Markets for Farm

64%

46%

Knowledge of Resources for Developing Strategic Plan for Farm

64%

35%

Attitudes Towards Value of Having a Business Plan to Guide Farm

55%

26%

Ability to Develop a Business Plan for Farm

55%

29%

Ability to Implement Systems and Projects to Move Towards Whole Farm Goal

45%

26%

Session Summary

82%

 

Session Seven – Leadership and   Communication
Using Whole Farm Goal to Guide Communication on Farm

89%

48%

Incorporating Diverse Learning Styles toward More Effective Leadership and Communication

89%

48%

Awareness of Communication Patterns on Farm

78%

33%

Effective Communication Tools for Farm

78%

37%

Understanding Diverse Ways People Seek Recognition

78%

40%

Conflict Resolution Skills for Farm

67%

32%

Sense of Yourself as a Leader

67%

30%

Session Summary

100%

 

Session Eight – Land Planning
Design Strategies to Build Resilient, Diversified Farms

92%

44%

Assess Management Considerations to Guide Land Planning

92%

58%

Prioritize Land and Infrastructure Development/Investments

83%

48%

How to Incorporate Natural Resource Issues into Land Planning

83%

46%

How to Incorporate Social/Legal/Contractual into Land Planning

75%

52%

How Permaculture Fits into Holistic Land Planning

75%

48%

Session Summary

100

 

Session Nine – Grazing
How to Determine the Number of Paddocks

91%

62%

How to Determine Grazing Periods

82%

60%

How to Assess Recovery Periods

82%

48%

How to Improve Land Health with Livestock

82%

52%

How to Determine Number of Animals Your Pasture Can Support

82%

67%

How to Assess Quantity of Forage in Pasture

73%

48%

Value of Grazing Planning

73%

56%

Session Summary

100%

 

Session Ten – Soil Fertility
Ability to Monitor Farm Eco-System Health

100%

52%

Understanding Eco-system Processes on Your Farm

82%

33%

Indicators of a Healthy Farm Eco-System

82%

45%

Importance of Improving Soil Fertility Sustainably

55%

22%

Benefits of a Covered Soil

55%

25%

Session Summary

100%

 

 

Increased Confidence as a Result of   Session

Confidence In. . .

Year   One
Ability to Identify Logjam/Adverse Factors

100%

Prioritizing Cutting Farm Expenses to Guide Re-investment

100%

Monitoring Your Farm Financial Plan

100%

Developing Written Whole Farm Goal

93%

Manage Your Time on Your Farm

93%

Make Complex Decisions on Your Farm

93%

Using Testing Questions

93%

Getting Profit You Need From Your Farm

93%

Identifying Cash Flow Issues on Farm

93%

Promoting Your Farm Products

90%

Developing a Marketing Plan that Meets Your Farm’s Needs and Goals

90%

Determine Your Farm’s Net Worth

87%

Determine Your Farm’s Projected Revenue

80%

Determining Weak Link in Farm Enterprises

80%

Increase Your Farm’s Net Worth

73%

Determine Viable Profitable Enterprises

73%

Pricing Your Farm Products

60%

Assessing Your Competition to Understand Your Farm’s Strengths

80%

Communicating with Decision Makers

78%

Developing a Business/Strategic Plan

73%

Delineating Farm Resources for Management

57%

Building an Effective Management Team

57%

Identifying Systems and Protocols for your Farm

57%

Communicating with Farm Workers

67%

Providing Recognition for Farm Workers

56%

Providing Leadership on Your Farm

89%

Ability to Prioritize Land/Infrastructure Improvements on Farm

92%

Natural Resource Management
Ability to Incorporate Natural Resource Issues into Land Planning

100%

Assessing Recovery Periods

100%

Calculating the Number of Paddocks for your System

100%

Determining the Number of Animals Your Land Can Support for Grazing

91%

Determining How Long Animals Will Stay in Each Paddock

91%

Assessing Quantity of Forage and Pasture

91%

Ability as a Grazer

82%

Monitoring Your Farm’s Eco-System Health

73%

Improving Eco-System Health on Your Farm

73%

Building Organic Matter in Your Soils

73%

Ability to Incorporate Social/Legal Considerations into Land Planning

67%

 

Intention to Change Behavior

% of participants
Human Resources
Implement Time Management Tools or Processes

100%

Using Testing Questions for On Farm Decisions Making

100%

Change Leadership Practices

100%

Develop a Whole Farm Goal

92%

Change Management Practices

83%

Financial Resources
Complete or Modify a Financial Plan

100%

Complete or Modify a Marketing Plan

90%

Determine Profit Up Front and Cap Expenses

87%

Change Marketing Practices

80%

Monitor Financial Plan

73%

Change Enterprise Assessment

67%

Prioritize and Cut Expenses

67%

Enter Financial Data Regularly

67%

Complete or Modify a Business Plan

64%

Change Record-Keeping

60%

Strategically Reinvest in Farm

53%

Natural Resource Management
Conduct Biological Monitoring on Farm

91%

Change Eco-System Health Practices

91%

Complete or Modify Written Land Plan

75%

Change Land Management Practices

58%

Complete or Modify Written Grazing Plan

55%

Change Grazing Practices

64%

 

BWF PARTICIPANT BEHAVIOR CHANGE

% of participants experiencing change

Holistic Goal/Whole Farm Plan

82%

Financial Plan

82%

Forge Relationships That Positively Impacted You

82%

Grazing Plan

80%

Business Plan

55%

Marketing Plan

45%

Land Plan

45%

 

Post-Program Satisfaction Changes

Topic

% Participants Experiencing

Change

Satisfaction with Ability to Determine Needed Profit

100%

Satisfaction with Ability to Make Complex Decisions

100%

Satisfaction with Quality of Life

80%

Satisfaction with Communication

89%

Satisfaction with Time Management

82%

 


Session Satisfaction

Class Percent rated good or excellent

Session   One

92%

Session   Two

100%

Session   Three

100%

Session   Four

100%

Session   Five

100%

Session   Six

55%

Session   Seven

89%

Session   Eight

92%

Session   Nine

100%

Session   Ten

100%

 

Post-Session Impacts

 

Impacts Experienced Percent of Participants
Human Resources
Clearer sense of what your farm is managing towards

100%

Better Ability to Determine Resources Available to You

91%

Improved Decision Making

82%

New Policies and Systems Implemented

55%

Better Relationships

55%

Financial Resources
New or Improved Record Keeping Systems

73%

Changes in How Your Prioritize Expenses

73%

Improved Ability to Incorporate Social, Environmental, and Financial into Your Land Plan

73%

Enhanced Understanding of Your Farm Finances

64%

Improved Ability to Prioritize Land Planning Investments

55%

Natural Resources

 

Improved Understanding of Your Farm’s Eco-System

82%

Improved Ability to Determine Appropriate Management to Address an Environmental Issue

73%

Improved Ability to Articulate Goals and Objectives of Business to Others

73%