On 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.
On 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.
The 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%|