Long-time Holistic Management practitioner Agee Smith offers a wonderful presentation in this video of the work he has done to improve the riparian corridors on Cottonwood Ranch near Wells, Nevada through holistic planned grazing. Agee and his family have been practicing Holistic Management since 1995 and they have transformed their riparian areas by changing their grazing practices.
In 1995 cattle numbers on their public leases were getting cut and the Smith’s were in a dire financial situation. They formed a team of 50 people interested in the ranch and they still have a team of 30 people who meet three times a year. Agee says he would never go back to the old way of doing things. After all these years this group has developed a lot of trust and the participants look forward to going to the meetings.
In this video Agee talks about how they use their written grazing planning to help facilitate the conversations at their meetings. That written plan helps them keep track of their grazing so they can change up where they graze each year and increase the opportunity for different plants to reach full expression. With improved grazing they were able to triple their stocking rate. As he goes through the pictures in his slideshow, you see the dramatic changes that have occurred on the landscape in this riparian areas and how they have rebounded from extreme situations like wildfire.
Agee also mentions their success with multi-species grazing and how they have moved from haying to storing standing forage to reduce feed costs. They have been able to graze through March on this standing feed. With all this improved management, the beaver population has also increased which has helped to improve riparian areas which, in turn, help slow down the water and create wetlands. In turn, these wetlands have improved forage production for the cattle and helped create areas that are “fireproof.”
To learn more about how other Holistic Management ranchers and farmers are improving their land and the wildlife habitat on their farms and ranches, visit HMI’s Soil and Conservation page.
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