Beginning Farmers’ Success with Managed, Multi-Species Grazing, Cover Crops and More

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”.  To see that in action, visit to Shane and Jessica Blair, a young farm family, putting their enthusiasm and energy to work in Pope County, Minnesota. The Blair family has been farming on their Fire Rock Farm for the last 5 years. Shortly after they purchased the farm they met with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff Melissa Behrens, Soil Conservation Technician, and Jeff Duchene, Grazing Specialist. This NRCS duo worked with the Blair family to develop a conservation plan for their farm and encouraged them to sign-up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  An EQIP contract was procured as a result of the assistance provided by the local NRCS office.  Then a few more contracts followed to further improve the pasture and cropland productivity and health. “The NRCS EQIP contracts each contained several conservation practices such as grazing plan, fencing, watering system, cover crop and pasture plantings,” said Behrens.  “Working on this EQIP contract and grazing plan was a great experience.  It’s nice to know that a co-worker such as Duchene wanted to design the best possible grazing plan for this farm family.  Today it’

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2 thoughts on “Beginning Farmers’ Success with Managed, Multi-Species Grazing, Cover Crops and More

  1. I can’t attach photo’s to the comment section, while sheep may not “like” to graze tall forage but once trained, can and will graze rather tall forage. 12″+ grazed to 5-6″.

    Taller forages have deeper more robust root system, shade the soil keeping at a more conducive temperature in summer and less weed seed germination and higher water infiltration rates. The combines to improve pasture resiliency.

    Taller forages with higher residual also keeps parasite re-infection levels lower as the highest concentration of L3 larvae are in the lowest layer of the canopy.

    Keep trying. Who’s the manager here, you or the flock?

    1. I had my lambs in 16 to 20 inch tall grass last year co-grazing with the cattle. They gained over half a pound per day, so they didn’t suffer too much…

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