May 16th and 17th, 34 participants gathered at The Ecolodge at Mangarara Station at Hawkes Bay in New Zealand. Titled Amazing Grazing, this two-day event focused on how to never run out of grass. The Ecolodge overlooks Horseshoe Lake, a natural landscape feature and is another enterprise to a diverse operation. Key learning objectives of this two-day event included:
- Plant recovery and its relationship to livestock performance and soil health
- Rainfall infiltration rates, how they vary, and what that could mean for production
- Creating sample/demonstration area
- Signs when grazing is not enhancing the landscape
- Experimenting with longer rotations
- Diversity of pasture species
- Roll of litter in pasture production
Speakers built on these topics, with Steve Haswell from BioAg explaining relationships between organic matter and humus, and connection to litter. Gavin Clements from Wesco Seeds focused on the benefits of diverse pastures, exploring the roles of a number of traditional and non-traditional pasture species. Bruce Wills told of his farming operation which involves many complimentary practices to managing holistically including higher grazing residuals, planting trees in paddocks, and fencing off native bush. Greg Hart spoke on the history of Mangarara Station and the increasing number of enterprises including pigs, dairy, beef, sheep, chickens, and the Ecolodge.
Holistic Management Associate Certified Educator John King took the opportunity to demonstrate the decision testing process by exploring whether lengthening recovery periods benefited a generic holistic goal so all participants could see how managing holistically involves much more that grazing. Malcolm White assisted with practical examples from his situation to illustrate points John raised. There was a long discussion about recovery periods, overgrazed plants and bare soil.
An outdoor session allowed the group to visit Greg Hart’s grazing operation where Steve Haswell explored the soil profile and an infiltration test was conducted – an inch of water disappeared in 40 seconds on the slope whereas it took 8 minutes at the top of the ridge where livestock tend to camp. Much was made of the standing litter and how that might be recycled better. The following day the group visited Glenlands operated by Dean and Antoinette Martin and explored the reality of cocktail crops and livestock performance.
Here are some of the results of this two-day event:
|Knowledge, Behavior, and Confidence Increase||%|
|Intend to change any management practices/apply ideas learned in this event?||100%|
|Expand your network today by meeting new people or learning about resources available?||100%|
|Would recommend this event to others||100%|
|Overall Satisfaction of the event||97%|
|Increased ability to monitor ecosystem health||91%|
|Increased ability to determine land health||91%|
|Increased ability to determine appropriate grazing strategies||91%|
|Intend to conduct biological monitoring as a result of today’s event||90%|
|Ability to determine plant recovery||76%|