Profitable Ranching with Holistic Management

Sands  grazingThe website, On Pasture, has been running a series of articles about Holistic Management practitioners, Cody and Deanna Sands. The Sands used Holistic Management to help them move from being in debt $20,000 to turning a profit in 5 years (and having fun doing it). They made changes such as combining herds and were able to use EQIP funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to help them improve their fencing and water so they had 65 paddocks instead of 16, increasing forage utilization and plant recovery. The Holistic Management class they took helped them understand that they were both understocked and overgrazing. Improved grazing helped address both of those issues and increase their profitability by more than doubling their grazing days in less than 2 years. To learn more about Holistic Planned Grazing, download our free Grazing e-book.

Healing Desert Rivers with Holistic Management

landThere was an interesting article about Holistic Management practitioner Paul Schwennesen by Sandra Postel on the National Geographic site. The Schwennesens are long-time Holistic Management practitioners and Paul took over operations on the Double Check Ranch from his father about 10 years ago. The ranch abutts part of the San Pedro River and Paul is working with the Arizona Land and Water Trust to see if he can reduce his water use by 20-30% through improving the water cycle function on his land. He’s working to increase organic matter so he can hold more water. More than 300 migratory birds fly along the San Pedro, so what is good for the river is also good for these birds. In turn, Paul gets compensated for the water saved. If this experiment shows promise, there may be more opportunity for ranchers to earn money by saving water through good grazing practices. To learn more about how to implement Holistic Planned Grazing, download our Holistic Grazing e-book for free.

Director of Agriculture Position Open in Ohio

greenacresGreenacres Foundation is a educational farm using Holistic Management near Cincinnati, Ohio. They are currently looking for a Director of Agriculture.

The Greenacres Director of Agriculture will be a strategic thought-partner and report to the Greenacres Chief Operating Officer.  The ideal candidate is an experienced practitioner of Holistic Management and grass based sustainable agriculture  with proven experience leading and developing a team that manages all sustainable agriculture production.  This position manages cattle, poultry, sheep, equine, pastures, crop and hay production, sustainable agriculture and research.

This position will play a critical role in partnering with other senior leaders to develop a long term strategic plan as well as other operational improvements that will enable Greenacres to continue to grow and build capacity.  This is a tremendous opportunity for a Holistic Management Agriculture leader to maximize and strengthen the capacity of a well-respected, high-impact organization.

Given the dynamic nature of the Greenacres Foundation Property and Mission, in addition to standard duties, this position may be called on to assist in any activity that may further the Mission of the Greenacres Foundation.

Responsibilities

Agricultural Management:

  • Responsible for the daily planning, organization, supervision and administration of the Farm.
  • Delivers leadership to Greenacres agriculture departments: Livestock, Vegetable Production and oversee Agriculture Research.
  • Analyze and present data in an accurate and timely manner; clearly communicate monthly, quarterly, and annually on goals.
  • Works with the agriculture managers to create and manage enterprise budgets. Review all plans and budgets; monitor progress and changes; keep the senior leadership team abreast of the Agriculture team’s results.
  • Responsible for long term planning, operations, marketing and development of agriculture businesses. One of the long term goals is for Greenacres  to become a demonstration site for Holistic Management and regenerative agriculture.
  • Build and implement proposals and schedules for vehicles, infrastructure and machinery. Work with property and estate crew managers to complete tasks.
  • Creates and implements production guidelines and protocols consistent with Holistic Management and grass based systems.
  • Develops relationships with vendors to effectively manage and maintain a variety of unique machinery, buildings, infrastructure and production systems.
  • Coordinates and oversees pasture and forage management responsibilities for Equine department.
  • Develops relationships and speaking opportunities with world renowned consultants and presenters.
  • Responsible for managing product through all phases to sales. Ensure that Greenacres is profitable and meets projected financial targets.
  • This position lives on property and is on call 24/7.
  • Review, update and implement all necessary processes and practices as needed to expand Greenacres capacity.
  • Ensure compliance with government regulations and health and safety standards.
  • Effectively communicate and present: projects, data, etc.  to the appropriate stakeholders.

Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in agriculture or related fields.
  • Training in Holistic Management certified through Holistic Management International.
  • Experience in the agriculture sector.
  • Experience in ranching for profit.
  • Proven track record for being a strategic thought partner as well as getting results.
  • Must be able to put a business plan together justifying proposals.
  • Additional qualifications may include an MBA, Master in Agriculture or related degrees.
  • Previous experiences that ensure a deep understanding of grass fed methodologies.
  • At least 7-10 years of overall professional experience.
  • Previous experience working on a farm managing crop, horticultural, livestock, and poultry production.
  • A successful candidate must have a proven record of management using a “Dream It, Sell It, Implement It, Evaluate It” business model.
  • A successful track record in setting priorities; keen analytic, organization and problem solving skills which support and enable sound decision making.
  • Excellent communication and relationship building skills with an ability to prioritize, negotiate, and work with a variety of internal and external stakeholders.
  • Personal qualities of integrity, credibility, and dedication to the mission of Greenacres.

Employment dependent on the ability to pass a physical, drug screen, and Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation fingerprinted background check.

Send a cover letter and résumé to: Greenacres Foundation- Human Resources, 8255 Spooky Hollow Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45242 or by email to [email protected].

 

Measuring Microbes: A New Approach to Soil Testing

GabeBrownSunflowerA recent article on the AgProfessional website talked about how soil testing in the future may include microbial content. This is a great move as researchers like David Johnson of New Mexico State University have shown that while organic matter in soils is an important criteria to determine soil health, the fungal:bacteria ratio is even more important. The higher that ratio (favoring the fungal), the more productive the land. For gardeners one way to accomplish is through a good compost. For large scale farmers and ranchers, another way is through Holistic Planned Grazing. Read about how Gabe Brown increased soil fertility with cover crops, no-till, and Holistic Planned Grazing. Click here, to get a free e-book on Holistic Planned Grazing.

Improving Land Productivity in New Mexico

on the landsm 30 participants managing 14,030 acres participated in HMI’s Improving Land Productivity Series in Tucumcari, New Mexico. This 6-day series was taught by Holistic Management Certified Educator Kirk Gadzia, and holistic rancher Tom Sidwell provided on the ground application and information about how he is managing holistically at the JX Ranch outside of Tucumcari for 35 years. Tom has done a great job documenting his grazing planning and the results he’s achieved including the return of cool-season grasses coming back like western wheat grass.

The series covered holistic goal setting, on-ranch decision making, biological monitoring, grazing planning and land planning.  Participants had the opportunity to learn from each other as well as work individually on their plans, as well as more experiential learning out in the field with plant identification and forage assessment and inventorying.

grazing planningsmThis class was a diverse group of ranchers including members of the Mescalero and Navajo Nations, as well as ranchers who had Bureau of Land Management grazing leases. The operations ran from cow/calf to goats and chickens with a wide range of scale of operation as well as years of experience ranching. Particularly exciting was the inclusion of some younger producers fresh out of high school.

Thanks to the Thornburg Foundation for their generous support of this event. Thanks also to our sponsors the Southwest Quay Soil and Water Conservation District and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Co-op Development Center. Lastly thanks to the Sidwells and JX Ranch Natural Beef for their support of this event.

Tom Sidwell

Tom Sidwell

Here’s what some of our participants had to say about what they valued most about the program:

  • The benefit of more cattle, less time grazing, smaller pastures.
  • Soil health range condition as it pertains to the whole picture
  • Cattle management and use of animal days of grazing
  • Test decision model, goal setting
  • Coverage of ground
  • Decision matrix
  • What good stewards the Sidwells are!
  • Very satisfied! Good mix of pasture info & cattle management
  • Learning how important roots are.
  • Learning how to have a grazing plan instead of a fly by the seat of your pants plan.
  • I intend to really do planned grazing, solidify holistic goal and go forward!
  • Great class. Loved all the interaction.
  • I learned to prioritize working capital
  • The big eye opener to me is how much can be accomplished with proper planning.
  • I learned a lot from all of the training! Very informative and can’t wait to apply these practices!
Outcomes % of participants
Your ability to identify needed systems and protocols to create a successful farm 82%
Increased ability in creating a whole farm/ranch goal 86%
More confident in your ability to make complex decisions on your farm as a result of today’s class 100%
Increased ability to monitor your farm’s/ranch’s ecosystem health 91%
Intend to change management practices as a result of the program 95%
Intend to complete biological monitoring as a result of the program 95%
The value of grazing planning 95%
Increased knowledge in assessing recovery periods 95%
Increased knowledge of how to assess quantity of forage in a pasture 81%
Increased knowledge of how to improve land health with livestock 90%
Increased knowledge of how to determine the number of animals your pasture can support 90%
Increased confidence in ability as a grazier 100%
Do you intend to complete or modify a written grazing plan as a result of today’s session? 100%
Increased knowledge of how to prioritize land/infrastructure development/investments 95%
Increased knowledge of design strategies that can build resilient, diversified farms 100%
Do you intend to complete or modify a written land plan as a result of today’s session? 100%

 

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Oregon Whole Farm/Ranch Land Management Series Results

Oregon WFRLM 201624 farmers and ranchers participated in HMI’s Improving Land Productivity series, which ran through March and early April at the Jackson Soil & Water Conservation District in Central Point, Oregon. Instructors were Certified Educator Rob Rutherford and Certified Educator trainee, Angela Boudro.

These participants, who manage 3546 acres of land, engaged in HMI’s experiential curriculum to learn and experience holistic goal setting, on-farm decision testing, ecosystem analysis, biological monitoring, grazing planning, and land planning. Participants noted 92% satisfaction in the course and instructors.

Oregon WFRLM 2016 classHere’s what some of the participants had to say about the course:

“I plan to utilize the testing framework to avoid costly mistakes.”

“I came for the fish – I learned to fish.”

“I gained increased knowledge of how to complete a correct grazing plan.”

“The most important thing I learned was estimating grazing & recovery periods for multiple herds.”

Here’s what the evaluations showed:

Outcomes % of participants
Increased ability in creating a whole farm/ranch goal 100%
Increased ability to make complex decisions on your farm as a result of today’s class 91%
Increased ability to monitor your farm’s/ranch’s ecosystem health 100%
Increased knowledge in assessing recovery periods 88%
Increased knowledge of how to assess quantity of forage in a pasture 81%
Increased knowledge of how to improve land health with livestock 81%
Increased knowledge of how to determine the number of animals your pasture can support 88%
Intend to change any management practices as a result of this session? 93%
Increased knowledge of how to prioritize land/infrastructure development/investments 94%
Increased knowledge of design strategies that can build resilient, diversified farms 85%

Thanks to our collaborators, Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District and Oregon State University Extension Services.

Beginning Farmers and Ranchers in Texas – Class of 2016

A young couple living a primitive lifestyle while working to heal the land.

A couple of military men ready for a new career.

A graduate student in wildlife research.grouptwo (2)

A veterinarian hoping to enhance his goat farm retirement business.

Sisters learning to manage the family farm together.

These are just a few of the people that applied for the 2015-2016 Beginning Farmers and Ranchers in Texas program, which began in October 2015, and wrapped up in February 2016.  In February, 29 of the 30 participants graduated from the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program.  Each completed at least 70% of their 10-part Whole Farm/Ranch Plan and attended at least 70% of the 10 class days over five months.

Divided into five 2-day sessions, the first session took place at Green Fields Farm, near Temple, Texas.  On Day 1, participants were introduced to the principles and practices of Holistic Management and set to work creating their Whole Farm/Ranch Plan – which included the creation of their Holistic Goal, an inventory of all of their resources, and were introduced to the Holistic Management Decision-Making framework that will guide them toward their Holistic Goal.  On Day 2, participants were introduced to ecosystem health and biomonitoring.

In November, 2015, participants headed to Montesino Ranch, in Wimberley, TX for Session Two, which included Grazing and Decision Making and Time Management.  On Day 1, participants learned the value of grazing planning, including appropriate recovery periods, assessing forage quantity, and how to determine the number of animals a farm/ranch can support.  Day 2 talked about topics such as how to make complex on-farm/ranch decisions, learning to understand seasonal time demands, and how to effectively manage time on a farm or ranch.

Session three took place in December, 2015, at Kerr Wildlife Management Area, in Hunt, Texas.  Both sessions focused on FinanfinancialplanningatKerrwildlifemanagementcial Planning, beginning with topics such as how to develop a balance sheet, how to determine a farm/ranch’s projected revenue, how to identify logjams and adverse factors on the farm/ranch, and how to increase farm/ranch net worth.  Day 2 focused on topics such as how to assess cash flow, how to get the desired profit from a farm or ranch, prioritizing and cutting expenses to guide reinvestment, and how to develop and monitor a financial plan for the farm or ranch.

Session four took place in January, 2016, where participants headed back to Wimberley, Texas to Red Corral Ranch, to focus on Marketing and Business Planning.  Day 1 of the session concentrated on key marketing topics such as how to profitably price products and services, how to develop a farm/ranch business plan, and why it’s important to understand the competition.  Day 2 focused on business planning topics such as how to effectively promote products and services, how to develop a marketing plan, and how to use a Holistic Goal to guide a business strategic plan.

The last 2-day session took place in February, 2016 at Bamberger Ranch, in Johnson City, Texas.  These last sessions focused on Land Planning, and Leadership and Communication.  Land planning topics included how to design strategies to build resilient, diversified farms and ranches, how to incorporate natural resource issues when land planning, and how permaculture fits into Holistic Land Planning.  The second day of the session focused on leadership and communications issues such as how to be aware of communication patterns on farm or ranch, effective communication tools, and conflict resolution skills.

In February this class graduated 29 of the participants, with make-up work available to graduate all of them. HMI heartily congratulates these 29 students. Each completed at least 70% of their 10-part Whole Farm/Ranch Plan and attended at least 70% of the 10 class days over 5 months. Most had perfect attendance. All loved the training.

Here are some of the results:

Intended Behavior Change                                                              2015-2016

 

Implement Time Management Tools or Processes 100%
Using Testing Questions 100%
Change Enterprise Assessment 100%
Determine Profit Up Front and Cap Expenses 100%
Complete or Modify a Financial Plan 100%
Change Record-Keeping   95%
Develop a Whole Farm Goal   91%
Change Management Practices   90%
Involve Decision-Makers in Financial Planning   90%
Enter Financial Data Regularly   83%
Monitor Financial Plan   83%
Complete or Modify Written Land Plan 100%
Conduct Biological Monitoring on Farm 100%
Complete or Modify a Marketing Plan   96%
Complete or Modify Written Grazing Plan   96%
Change Grazing Practices   96%
Change Leadership Practices   95%
Prioritize and Cut Expenses   88%
Complete or Modify a Business Plan   85%
Change Marketing Practices   73%
Change Eco-System Health Practices   73%
Change Business Planning Practices   67%

 

Read what program participants had to say about the training:

“This training has inspired me to lead with a new outlook and goal in mind. I see value in things I have not considered before. The processes I have learned and tools I have received will help me reach succession in all aspects of my life.”

 “It has given me hope and inspiration when thinking about the future. It has given me the power to go out into the world and be the change that I want to see.”

 “The synergy of this group is amazing – I am energized and focused because I know I’m not alone on this quest. I have not only my management team, but a team of “consultants” to help my farm.”

 “This course has jump started/pushed me to move from research phase to “do” phase. Has also really illuminated the “Big Picture” of my whole operation. Invaluable!”

 “This training has provided our management team the ability to better communicate. We also received a set of tools and the training required to use the tools not only on the farm but in our lives.”

 “A lifetime of wisdom packed into an intensive 10 day workshop full of friendships and community.”

 “Highly committed session trainers teaching methods that they deeply believe are effective and valuable it’s a great program.”

 “It is a way to be a better farmer & also be a better person. It feels like a real force for good in the world.”

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Organic Award at HMI Namibian Open Gate

Wayne Knight and Judith Isele

Wayne Knight and Judith Isele

400 participants attended HMI’s first Namibian Open Gate held at Springbokvley Farm which coincided with owner Judith Isele receiving The Young Farmer award from the National Farmers Union (NAU) in Namibia.

Namibian Holistic Management Certified Educator Wiebke Volkmann facilitated the Open Gate along with presentations by Wayne Knight, South African Holistic Management Certified Educator.

Wiebke Volkmann

Wiebke Volkmann

The great diversity of people coming to this Open Day generated not only a sense of astonishment, but also celebration. The pioneers of Holistic Management in Namibia and elder leaders of organized agriculture, well-known politicians and community leaders, field facilitators and farmers from Namibia’s many and diverse communal lands and ethnic origins, staff of support organizations, NGO’s and agribusinesses, freelance consultants, educators and farmers came.

400 participants from diverse backgrounds participated in the event.

400 participants from diverse backgrounds participated in the event.

After Judith Isele welcomed all guests and thanked all helpers, the president of the NAU, Mr Ryno van der Merwe, spoke about the value of precision farming to deal with the many challenges that agriculturists face. Climate change, drought, the weakened Southern African currencies in a global market economy, political priorities and the diminishing carrying capacity of the land due to bush encroachment were mentioned as the main challenges. He went as far as saying that any farmer who will not adapt now to a more pro-active and concerted management can expect to be out of business in five years. Therefore farmers should focus on what they can change, namely management of production, rangeland, labour, financial expenditures and risks. Talking straight, he said farmers should not make poor prices responsible for their poor performance.

Wiebke Volkmann spoke for both the Namibia Centre for Holistic Management and HMI explaining to the audience how the Namibia Centre evolved and some of the key players in that evolution and the willingness for the southern Africa Holistic Management community of educators and practitioners to help those interested in learning more about Holistic Management.

Next, Wayne Knight, as an HMI Director, presented HMI’s award of Outstanding Demonstration Site of Holistic Management to Judith for her excellent work at documenting and sharing her Holistic Management practice.

350 people on a field trip

350 people on a field trip

The next presentation was a presentation by Mr Sakkie Coetzee, the CEO of the NAU and the coordinator of the Young Farmer of the Year selection committee. He shared information about the NAU’s current project (funded by the EU) to roll out awareness about the National Rangeland Management Policy and Strategy (NRMPS). This policy was co-drafted by Holistic Management educators Colin Nott and Wiebke Volkmann. Through their interaction with scientists, practical ranchers, government technocrats and rangeland consultants, the principles of Holistic Planned Grazing and key ecological insights of Holistic Management are included in the NRMPS.

2800 Damara sheep

2800 Damara sheep

When Judith Isele spoke, her explanations clearly showed how the various principles and processes of Holistic Management helped her achieve the outstanding results which she could verify through thoroughly processed data and visual appraisal of her livestock and land base. With regards to rangeland management cattle, sheep and horses are seen and treated as gardeners of their own food and Holistic Management planned grazing is used to meet the needs of everyone. Judith did not hold back with her challenges, either – mainly growing more grass than her livestock can cycle back into the ground through dunging, urinating and trampling.

Grazing Comparison with 2800 sheep

Grazing Comparison with 2800 sheep

It is in this context that she described her experiments and scientific research where she compares two treatments to her “normal” holistic planned grazing as control: 4 replications in different areas of the farm received the equivalent of a double stocking rate. For this the three herds of animals moving through all of the 60 camps (paddocks) and stay twice as long as they would if they followed the “normal” planned grazing period. The other experimental treatment observes the effects of increased stock density from subdividing the paddock with temporary electric fencing with one day graze periods only. The stock density is not fixed – depending on the herd composition and the size of the camp. Forage composition, biomass production and plant vigor of all species on the fixed transects are measured twice a year and compared to the baseline taken in 2014.

Judith’s provisional data makes clear that when measuring biomass production not only in terms of samples cut and weighed, but also in terms of what livestock have harvested and converted, the camps with double the stocking rate yielded more than the increased density and control samples.

Many conventional farmers found it difficult to accept the statement: “I work with what I have here on Springbokvley: one species of perennial and one species of annual grass.” Rather than focusing on the species but on the vegetative state of these grasses, Judith aims to further increase digestabilty and nutritional value.

With regards to production management Judith mentioned that she is led by the vision to farm sustainably and efficiently with animals that she likes. The indigenous Nguni cattle and Damara sheep breeds are adapted and require little external inputs. During her second presentation on how she puts principles into practice, she explained that initially the cattle and sheep ran in three herds, each in their own cell of camps to obtain maximum benefit from multi-species grazing. However, cattle and sheep tended to move in separate groups, and in 2013 Judith wanted to see what behavior changes and impact it would make if all the sheep would move in one larger herd and cattle would be split in two groups – each as big as the water supply allows. Judith observed some loss in condition in mainly the sheep and now has started to mix the two species again to have greater flexibility in grazing planning and to make better use of especially sheep forage in all the camps during the early growing season.

With regards to financial management Judith aims to “live now and provide for the future”. This she intends to do by doubling the profit per hectare in the near future. Control of daily expenses, good record keeping and planning are standard for her and spending a bit more to ease daily work load is the special challenge she set herself.

Marketing is led by the principle of natural production off the veldt (rangeland) and selling the adapted livestock when it is slaughter ready, rather than using external inputs or special measures for fattening. She also compares the options of various transport load sizes and takes advantage of a variety of abbartoirs/meat processors.

After Judith’s presentation, Quinton Barnes, who manages a 15,000 hectare (37,500 acre) cattle operation near Ghanzi, Botswana, gave an overview of “What Is Holistic Management.” He sketched out the decision making framework he and his two brothers and their parents use for strategic planning and for day to day management on land in South Africa and Botswana. He also highlighted the holistic financial planning with the marginal reaction/comparing options test when comparing and selecting enterprises. He demonstrated how their decision to sell “long weaners” and to keep any animal until after the growing season and only sell it then, has profited them hugely, even with desperately low meat prices and late payments by the abbatoir.

The field trip to view the farm took place in the afternoon. Roughly 300 people climbed onto cattle trucks and pick-ups with trailers. At two stops Wayne Knight facilitated question and answer sessions: One near cattle where the long-term effects of “normal” planned grazing could be observed – farmers were amazed at the amount of grazing that grew from such little rain – approximately 90 mm (less than 4 inches) this rainy season in comparison to the 182 mm (7.25 inches) long-term average for the same timespan/portion of the rainy season.

The second stop was on a fence line from which three management regimes could be seen: the “normal” planned grazing, the experimental doubled stocking rate and the neighbor’s game farm with set stocking and no livestock at all. At this point a discussion around bush encroachment, the use and effect of fire and the use of livestock to cycle nutrients ensued.

For those who did not want to join the field trip there was a presentation by the founder and chairperson of the Namibia Organic Association and horticultural producer, Manjo Smith. The topic was soil preparation, using compost, effective microorganisms, wormy compost and other organic methods. This presentation linked with Judith Isele’s passion and personal practice of home-grown food, and participants could see the implementation of the principles in Judith’s vegetable garden.

After returning to the homestead, many participants stayed for a delicious organic Nguni steak barbeque and dance – an appropriate end to a day of celebrating what the parent generation of the young farmers had envisaged: An approach to livestock farming that addresses the root cause of land degradation and re-generates the potential of the land to satisfy social and financial needs as well as delivering ecological services that go way beyond the farm gate.

Thanks to Judith Isele and her team of organizers as well as the Namibia Centre for Holistic Management for all their efforts to make this event a success. Thanks also to the Namibia Organic Association, the National Farmers Union, and the Leonardville Farmers’s Association for their support of this event.

Because this event was an opportunity for the southern Africa Holistic Management community to come together, 5 Certified Educators, 3 Community Facilitators, and 7 practitioners met the day after the Open Gate and shared current projects they are working on, as well as key experiences and insights regarding “content” and facilitation/learning methodology and general dissemination of Holistic Management awareness.

Also coinciding with this event was Wayne Knight’s presentation, “Experiences with Treating the Root Causes of Brush Encroachment,” at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) for 85 people. Wayne was asked by the Botanical Society to speak about this topic that dominates rangeland debates in Namibia. The audience was a combination of students, farmers, NGO and research station employees, consultants, scientists and members of the Botanical Institute and the Botanical Society of Namibia.

Wayne’s accessible descriptions of soil biology and how the proportion of fungi and bacteria creates favorable or unfavorable growing conditions for woody and for fibrous rooted plants (grasses and forbs) came across well. He made the link between healthy grasslands and the enormously large herds of plains game roaming across Southern Africa before settlers and livestock farming started to dominate the landscape.

HMI is excited to be collaborating with our southern African educators and practitioners to bring more Holistic Management programming to Namibia.

Photographs credits: Christiane Thiessen and drone photographs by Conrad Roedern of Solar Age Namibia.

 

Mexican Rangelands Program Focuses on Environmental Health

mexico groupwebOn January 15-16, 65 ranchers from around Chihuahua State, Mexico, attended the “Environmental Services of Well-Managed Rangelands in the Chihuahuan Desert” workshop held at the Ascension County Cattlemen Association Headquarters. This event was part of the program Border 2020 and was co-sponsored by HMI because all the cooperating ranchers involved with this program are integrating holistic planned grazing in their management. We were excited to have such a great turn out at this event, with attendees influencing 88,125 acres in this desert grassland ecosystem.

soil conversationmexicowebOn the first day, Gerardo Bezanilla, who coordinates the project and is on the HMI Board of Directors, explained to the attendees how this project is pushing the 9 cooperating ranchers (8 in Mexico and 1 in USA) to expand their vision beyond producing more forage and profit to contribute to an overall healthier environment. He also explained how their management can positively or negatively affect other people far away from their ranches.

The second presenter was Mr. Peter Donovan, founder of the Carbon Coalition and of the Carbon Challenge, who explained how carbon work in soils and how increasing its content in soil can contribute to solve some of the complex environmental problems we are facing. Ranchers were very interested in learning how carbon in soils is very related to moisture in the soil and how they can increase it.

peter in mexicowebThe next presenter was Dr. David DuBois, a New Mexico Meteorologist and Professor at New Mexico State University. He talked about the issues connected between wind soil erosion, dust air pollution, and health problems in urban areas such El Paso TX, Las Cruces NM, and Juarez, Chihuahua. The negative impact of wind erosion makes an even more powerful case for the need for good grazing management to keep soil covered with vegetation to reduce the consequences of soil erosion.

The third presenter was Dr. Carlos Ochoa, Professor from Oregon State University. He explained how watersheds can be healed using planned grazing and how we can harvest more water for livestock, wildlife and to produce forage, as well as store more water underground at the same time.

On the second day took place at Las Lilas Ranch where the attendees learned how to measure carbon in soil, soil wind erosion and underground water level fluctuations in water wells. All presenters linked through their talks and field practices, how a good grazing management can contribute to address each of the environmental variables they talked about.

Our thanks to all the organizations who collaborated on this event to make it such a success.

Many attendees requested more programming of this nature to deal with these critical issues. They enjoyed the experiential quality of the programming on the second day and liked how goals, management practices, and environmental outcomes were all woven together. Here’s some of the key outcomes from this event:

Results % of Participants
The effect of bare soil on air quality and human health 80%
How to evaluate the health of the land 75%
Improved ability to determine water infiltration 80%
Improved ability to determine soil health 75%
Improved understanding of the value of planned grazing 93%
Improved ability to understand health of land 98%
Intend to complete monitoring on own land as a result of event 92%
Would recommend the event 100%
Overall satisfaction of the event 98%

 

 

Water Scarcity Report Notes Holistic Management

Tom Sidwell, jx ranchThe National Young Farmers Coalition’s new report, Conservation Generation: How Young Farmers And Ranchers Are Essential to Tackling Water Scarcity in the Arid West, paints a picture of young farmers in the arid West, their approach to water, and the challenges they face. The report is based on a survey of 379 young farmers in the arid West as well as conversations with eight farmer focus groups. Conservation Generation outlines a series of recommendations to better support young farmers and water conservation—read them all by downloading the report. One of the key ways noted to address water conservation is through improved soil health. Holistic Management as a Whole Farm/Ranch Planning tool is noted as a tool that improves soil health. Holistic Management practitioners around the world has shown how they have improved soil health and captured more rain in drought circumstances to make better use of rainfall when it comes and to conserve that rain that falls. To learn more about how Tom & Mimi Sidwell used this process to help them survive the drought, read their case study.

HMI is holding a Whole Farm/Ranch Land Management series at the Sidwell’s ranch starting April 1st. Click here to learn more or register.