Grazing for Soil Health

Thanks to the folks with NRCS's "Unlock the Secrets of Soil Health" for their part in developing this article. The abandoned cotton farm Terry and Deborah Chandler purchased was in need of a lot of care. The fields were  highly eroded, and the top soil was absent. Rebuilding soil health was the first thing on their list, so they recruited the help of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). With technical assistance from NRCS grazing specialist Phillip Brown and financial assistance from the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) the Chandlers began improving the soil base of the farm. They started with improved grazing management and improved vegetation diversity. “We needed a more diverse forage mix than just annual rye grass or cereal grain," said Brown. So they added a five species mix of cereal rye, rye grass, hairy vetch, chicory, and red clover in this mix. This provided a strong legume content for high quality grazing, bio-mass production and nitrogen fixation. By adding the multi-species mix, the land is getting more organic carbon back into the soil, which will help feed a diverse microbial population and create better cycling of nutrients throughout the system.  "In the long run this will lead to more profitability and less purchased fertility for the producer," says Brown. Rotational Grazing

All the grazing management tips you need

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