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Grazing for Biodiversity

By   /  May 23, 2016  /  3 Comments

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Biodiversity in your pastures provides many benefits to pasture productivity, soil health, animal pe
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About the author

Jim Gerrish is the author of "Management-Intensive Grazing: The Grassroots of Grass Farming" and "Kick the Hay Habit: A Practical Guide to Year-around Grazing" and is a popular speaker at conferences around the world. His company, American GrazingLands Services LLC is dedicated to improving the health and sustainable productivity of grazing lands around the world through the use of Management-intensive Grazing practices. They work with small farms, large ranches, government agencies and NGO's to promote economically and environmentally sustainable grazing operations and believe healthy farms and ranches are the basis of healthy communities and healthy consumers. Visit their website to find out more about their consulting services and grazing management tools, including electric fencing, stock water systems, forage seed, and other management tools.


  1. Frank Egan says:

    G’day, down here in Aussie,there is also strong resistance to the idea of not adding a “bag to the acre” of Super every two years to maintain fertility (plus the profits of the fert company’s).In the main, stock movement is controlled by “permanent fencing”,rather than electric due to the costs involved in hired labor,and ever diminishing margins from livestock enterprises.In 2008 we completely changed our management for our meat sheep farm,in one trial we subdivided a 40 ac paddock into 3 main paddocks and set aside a small area(about 3 acs) of a rocky outcrop which had “never” had the plough over it as it contained a large number of remnant Native and introduced species,both C3 and C4’s. The 3 main grazing areas all radiated from this central point.Allowing this small area to set seed for a number of years “without” grazing meant that seed was carried into the adjoining areas by wind,water and wildlife.We now graze this paddock at “non-critical times” to increase the overall fertility of the area.

  2. Ron Sealock says:

    Our approach and results have been very similar to that which Jim described. In addition, we have had to invest in pastures that are converted from cropland by spreading manure from our wintering backgrounding operation in order to catalyze improvement on that ground. Areas that did not receive manure application for various reasons just have not responded as well to the grazing management. Its important to note that the manure applications are an investment, not an annual expense.
    One problem we have had is that the edges of our pastures that border other pastures that get aerial sprayed every year have noticeably poorer production. You have to search pretty hard for forbs in those areas.

  3. John Marble says:

    Hi Jim.

    I was struck by your simple analysis that “N fertilizer is not at all necessary to have high producing pastures”. I have followed a similar pathway as you have described here and my results have been much the same. Still, resistance to this kind of thinking is huge. Even though I can do the math (predicting the cost of dry matter produced per $ spent on N) or show the results of managed grazing (highly productive, diverse pastures), most folks just don’t want to see it. It would help if the Land Grant professors and Extension folks could look up from their industry-sponsored bibles or perhaps take a basic business or ecology course. My local agent recently told a group of producers that their pastures would just “poop out” if they didn’t add proper fertilizer each year. Smart girl, but 30 years at the university has sure made it hard for her to be objective.

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