There’s a great video of Holistic Management practitioners Charlie and Tanya Totten who own and operate the 700-acre Totten Angus Ranch in Chamberlain, South Dakota. They have been involved in research to see the results of what increasing stock density (mob-grazing) can do for soil health. Charlie notes that he changed his grazing practices because he knew that by feeding the soil he could increase production and earn more money. By increasing stock density he increases all the positive actions the animals can do for the land like pruning plants (which sends root exudates into soil to feed the microbiology), fertilizing the soil, and incorporating old plants into the ground (to cover ground and feed the microbiology more). In turn, he is able to allow more recovery for plant roots as plants are no longer overgrazed which increases plant resilience for such challenging conditions as drought. And, the end result is also more forage.
Charlie was surprised to find out that with this type of grazing he was able to double production even in a drought year (2012). Normally that part of the country sees 13 inches. In that year, they got three inches. Charlie says there are as many as 100 species of grasses and forbs on his land. He said that it is important to recognize that any kind of plant can help you in a drought whether to feed the livestock or soil, and protect the soil from erosion.
If you would like to learn how to plan your grazing to improve soil health and increase production, download HMI’s free Holistic Grazing Planning e-book today.