Utilizing holistic planned grazing as a regenerative engine for sustainable agriculture

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2010: $158,675.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Grant Recipient: Central NY RC&D Project, Inc.
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Troy Bishopp
Central NY RC&D Project, Inc.

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, grass (misc. perennial), hay, oats
  • Animals: bees, bovine, fish, goats, poultry, sheep, swine
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, feed/forage, feed formulation, feed rations, free-range, grazing management, grazing - continuous, grazing - multispecies, grazing - rotational, herbal medicines, homeopathy, housing, manure management, mineral supplements, parasite control, pasture renovation, pasture fertility, preventive practices, stocking rate, stockpiled forages, watering systems, winter forage
  • Crop Production: windbreaks
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, technical assistance, workshop
  • Energy: energy conservation/efficiency, energy use, solar energy, wind power
  • Farm Business Management: agricultural finance, agritourism, budgets/cost and returns, marketing management, new enterprise development, risk management, value added, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, carbon sequestration, habitat enhancement, hedgerows, hedges - grass, hedges - woody, indicators, riparian buffers, riverbank protection, soil stabilization, wetlands, wildlife
  • Pest Management: allelopathy, biological control, field monitoring/scouting, mulches - living, weather monitoring, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, organic agriculture, transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: composting, earthworms, nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil microbiology, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community planning, community services, employment opportunities, ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, infrastructure analysis, leadership development, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, public policy, social capital, social networks, social psychological indicators, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Utilizing Holistic Planned Grazing as a Regenerative Engine for Sustainable Agriculture A paradigm shift is needed in how grazing is planned, marketed and implemented on northeast farms. The resulting outcome can be a regenerative engine, through economic, environmental and social impacts, for sustainable agriculture. With increased pressure from the current dairy crisis, rising energy, equipment, feed and fertilizer costs, coupled with consumer interest in grass-based products, and environmental concerns (e.g. Chesapeake Bay water quality issues), a record number of requests from farmers for grazing planning assistance have been experienced by cooperative extension, conservation districts/NRCS and farmer-educators. This at a time when there are few whole farm grazing planning specialists in the Northeast SARE Region. Another significant trend is the shortage of trained educational and field staff to deliver programming and on-farm strategies to help farmers meet farm goals in the areas of profitability, ecological improvement and social well-being. Additionally farmers are struggling to meet obligations for conservation programming (e.g. Environmental Quality Initiative Program, State Environmental Protection Fund.) This project will focus on facilitating participant learning in whole farm planning concepts, which fully incorporate farm goals, effective decision making and meeting “farmers where they are.” To complement this holistic planning process, participants will learn about the practical and technical side of grazing management, economics, marketing concepts of planned grazing, ecological health, animal behavior, infrastructure design and ancillary topics (e.g. wildlife habitat and idle land regeneration.) Performance Target: 30 extension educators, conservation professionals, grassland advocates and/or farmer-educators from the Northeast SARE region are trained and deliver holistic and practical grazing strategies to 120 beginning and novice grazing farms, representing 24,000 acres, of which 72 farms on 14,400 acres, develop and implement a holistic planned grazing system.

    Performance targets from proposal:


    30 extension educators, conservation professionals, grassland advocates and/or farmer mentors from the Northeast SARE region are trained and deliver holistic and practical grazing strategies to 120 farms, representing 24,000 acres, of which 72 farms on 14,400 acres develop and implement a holistic planned grazing system. We estimate that the impacts on these 72 farms will be (1) financial - $2,000 increase in profitability due to reduced production costs, value added products and/or a production increases; (2) ecological – 25% increase in ground cover, biological activity and improved soil & forage health; and (3) social – measureable subjective improvement in family quality of life.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.