There are lots of reasons for adding livestock to landscapes. Grazing crop residue and cover crops is a low-cost way to recycle nutrients back into the soil and increase crop production. It’s also an easy way to reduce residue for more successful no-till seeding. Land managers can use livestock to manage weeds, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat. And fire managers are increasingly interested in grazing as a tool to reduce wildfire spread.
But not everyone who could use livestock is getting the benefit. That’s why grazing exchanges are popping up all across the country. Here’s a listing of exchanges that will match graziers with the people who need them and some resources you can use whether you’re part of an exchange or not.
Sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is a direct result of their survey results showing that 17% of farmers don’t graze cover crops because they don’t have access to livestock. Nebraska crop producers can list the crop residue they have and livestock producers can search for potential grazing opportunities.
Download the fact sheet “Impact of Grazing Corn Residue” as an aid for talking to a neighbor out the impacts of cattle grazing corn residue on crop yields, soil health, nutrient removal and microbial biomass. They also have a handout on Rental Agreements for Corn Residue Grazing outlining what to cover in an agreement once you’ve made a connection through the exchange or with a neighbor.
Like the Nebraska Exchange, this site helps match cropland holders with potential graziers. Their map displays participants by livestock or the grazing opportunity available (Hay/pasture, Cover crop, and Residue). Clicking on one of the icons shows more about the opportunity as shown below. Once you’ve created an account you can contact the landowner or livestock owner to make arrangements.
This is for graziers and landowners in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. You can explore listings and/or create your own listing. Check their resources page for information on interstate animal transportation and regulations for importing animals.
The South Dakota Soil Health Coalition is a producer-led non-profit promoting soil health throughout the state. The organization created this grazing exchange as part of their mission. You can check out opportunities on a map that uses icons for livestock and land base types to give a quick look at what’s available. Hovering over an icon brings up a pop-up with more information.
Their resources page has fact sheets on the value of crop residue and on grazing a variety of crops from corn stalks to turnips to other cover crops. There are interactive spreadsheets on crop aftermath and/or cover crop grazing and cover crop seeding plans and records. They also have a list of contracting resources including one for rental agreements for cover crop grazing.
Match.Graze is a service of University of California Cooperative Extension and is based on the South Dakota Grazing Exchange model. But here you’ll find an added emphasis on grazing for wildfire reduction or prevention. They serve small land holders and encourage prescribed grazing service providers to add their information. It’s all part of California’s effort to use grazing to achieve habitat enhancement and fuels reduction goals. Their resources page reinforces this by providing information on prescribed grazing, livestock as a conservation tool, and more.
Both Match.Graze and the South Dakota Grazing Exchange invite land managers and graziers from across the country to use their platforms to match up with each other.
Here’s a screenshot of the map tool from Match.Graze showing that folks in Utah and Arizona have added their information. Feel free to add yours as well!
Help Spread the Word!
These grazing exchanges will be most successful if we share them with our friends and colleagues. To help with that, On Pasture is providing this article to everyone whether or not they have a subscription. We think this is an important part of helping our On Pasture community thrive and grow.
And, if you have other grazing exchanges to add to this list, let me know! The more the merrier!