November 23, 2020

Hungry Plants Order Up Iron From Soil Microbes

Continuing with our Thanksgiving theme, here’s how plants harvest some nutrition for their own dinner. Thanks to the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research for their work on this article.   In nature, healthy plants are awash with bacteria and other microbes, mostly deriving from the soil they grow in. This community of microbes, […]

November 9, 2020

What are your grasses doing? What’s the result of your management?

Today we’re taking a field trip to visit the Gilbert family on their ranch in Buffalo, South Dakota. The Gilbert family has been ranching here on the shortgrass prairie since 1894, starting with sheep and then converting to Angus cattle. They graze rotationally, constantly tweaking and adjusting their management and monitoring to make sure the […]

October 12, 2020

Farmer Manages Variety and Builds Resilience Through Soil Health

Thanks to the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition for this article! South Dakota is known for its variety, and Don Nickelson’s operation in Frederick is no exception. With the help of his wife, Trista, and sons Aiden, Gavin, and Ian, Nickelson raises cattle and grows corn, soybeans, oats, triticale, alfalfa and cover crops. His farm […]

September 21, 2020

Twice as Many Cows, Twice as Easy

This piece comes to us from Clarence Kelly,* work unit conservationist for the Soil Conservation Service (now known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service). It was first published in September of 1962 in the Soil Conservation magazine. This rancher faced a lot of the same challenges many of us face today. His solution was to […]

August 31, 2020

Graziers and Crop Farmers Benefit From Working Together – Part 1

If you’re looking over at the remains in your neighbor’s crop residue or cover crops and are seeing potential forage, you’ll like this two-part series. It will give you some ideas and tips for creating a win-win opportunity. You feed your livestock while improving soil health and productivity for your neighbor! Thanks for this series […]

July 20, 2020

Take Your Grazing Up a Level By Adding Trees to Your Pastures

As someone who spends a lot of time talking with farmers about planting trees, there’s a certain phrase I’ve heard more than I can count. “Why in the world would someone do that? My granddad spent years clearing the woods so we can farm.” If you’re reading a grazing publication, I’ll assume you’re a bit […]

July 6, 2020

Manuresheds – Moving Manure Back to Fields and Pastures

We’ve all heard the term “watersheds.” We use it to describe a land area that channels rainfall and snowmelt to creeks, streams, and rivers. It helps us think about all the resources in one place and how they are distributed. Now, scientists are using that same concept to look at how we can reconnect livestock […]

June 29, 2020

Take a Deeper Look at Soil Health

Dr. Ray Weil has spent his whole life looking at and learning about soils and how they work to keep us all fed. In fact, he literally wrote the book on soils. He has a message for farmers and ranchers concerned about how their soils affect forage growth and profitability: Think deeper. Think about more […]

June 22, 2020

Updates on Projects to Manage Weeds and Turn a Dying Timber Stand Into Pasture

  I am often reminded of my old professor Dr. Breakey, especially lately as I review the results of two recent “field experiments.” Project 1: What in Tar(weed)Nation? Managing a New Weed Last spring I wrote about a massive invasion of Tarweed that had dominated a large chunk of the ranch. Those nasty plants interfered […]

June 8, 2020

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 […]

June 1, 2020

Water, Minerals and Shade – Where Should You Put Them in Pasture?

Water, mineral and shade – all are important to raising healthy livestock. They are also three things that your stock visit often so it’s important to balance convenience for the animal with the potential problems they can cause. For example, putting them all in one spot can encourage animals to stay in one place causing […]

May 25, 2020

Fences Grow More Grass

Shannon Carmichael thought her husband Bart was crazy when he started fencing the ranch first to half sections and then to quarter sections. “This is not how things are supposed to be done. We ride out, we gather, we calve cattle.” But as the pasture sizes began shrinking, she realized that there was a lot […]

May 11, 2020

Do You Know the Difference Between Organic Material and Soil Organic Matter?

This article comes to us from Eddie Funderburg, Ed.D., Senior Soils and Crops Consultant at the Noble Research Institute. Since we talk a lot about soil organic matter, we thought this breakdown would be helpful. Of all the components of soil, organic matter is probably the most important and most misunderstood. Organic matter serves as […]

April 20, 2020

Plants Feed Microbes to Get the Nutrients They Need

A few weeks ago we talked about how plants can adjust their root exudate to encourage microbes to provide them with more nutrients during times of stress. Today, we’re looking at another way that plants and microbes interact to ensure that plants get the nutrients they need from the soil. While plants can get carbon, […]

March 2, 2020

Finding Credence in a Clearcut Revival – Converting a Dying Forest Into Grazing Land

In addition to being an article about forest conversion, this is also an example of looking at the resources we manage, paying attention to a site’s potential, and considering what is best for our operations. We hope it inspires you to look around with new eyes.

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