The other day I read an intro to a book on pasture management that compared corn production and pasture management. The author contended that while there was amazing improvement in corn production over the last one hundred years or so, pasture management and livestock production had not changed. This irritated me.
“What?!” I thought. “Does he just not have any historical context? Is he not aware of all the changes that we’ve made to forage plants and animals that have made our beef production system the most efficient and high producing on the planet?”
The history of agriculture isn’t something most of us think about, or if we do, we sometimes make negative comparison between what folks did in the past and what we’re doing today. But, as always, we’re standing on the shoulders of those who came before us, and their mistakes and successes help make us what we are today. So, this week, here’s a little history. Hopefully it will provide some context and when necessary, help us not to repeat past mistakes.
There’s a lot here, including a 20 minute video. But I wanted to give you a little extra because I’m going to be out of town next week and won’t be able to send you an email.
This three-part series with great photos shows how we’ve altered cattle through breeding. Today’s cattle produce more meat in less time than ever before.
From Big to Small to Big to Small: A Pictorial History of How We’ve Changed What Cattle Look Like
Humans have always tried to breed plants that produced more of what we want and improving pasture grass varieties is no exception. The Dust Bowl provided incentive to scientists looking for and creating new varieties of grasses that would survive and thrive through drought. This is just one example of working with new forages. I’m sure you can come up with modern-day examples from your seed supplier.
We’re not the first generation to work on regenerative practices. We’re just the first to give it that name.
Did you know that the soil health principles we follow today are a product of the dirty thirties, and a man with a passion for soil. Here’s a video about what he did and the great impact he is still having today.
The Beginnings of Soil Conservation and the Regenerative Agriculture Movement
If you’re still wondering what you’re going to be for Halloween, here’s a prize-winning suggestion from the past.