Report for FS04-178
Good grazing management is a critical need in the South in order to increase the sustainability of livestock farms. This is partially because of the cropping practices over generations that deleted the fertility of the soil (cotton farming as an example) and enhanced soil erosion and partially because of the southern environment that decreases organic matter content of soils. Farmers are now seeing they can build fertility of the soil through increasing organic matter, enhance soil conservation and also decrease purchased farm inputs for a greater economic return through better grazing management. The development of controlled grazing programs is paramount to livestock farm sustainability; unfortunately, we have not had the technical help in this area that we need. We have had to learn as we go by trial and error and learning from our neighbor. Farmers can benefit from other farmers. The Grassroots Grazing Group (GGG), a producer network with approximately 80 members, was originally developed through an EPA sustainable communities challenge grant and has been active in working with farmers on grazing and sustainable livestock management issues. The group conducts monthly pasture walks as well as other activities related to grazing. In their producer grant project, the GGG intends to reach out to neighboring communities to assist in developing grazing operations, conduct an annual conference to bring in speakers to address issues of interest, instruct farmers how to build fences for controlled grazing and hold grazing field days conducted by GGG members.