- Animal Production: grazing management, grazing - rotational
- Education and Training: demonstration
- Soil Management: soil analysis
Improving the quality of information available to farmers should facilitate an increase in the practice of managed grazing. We conducted a four-day training workshop and a one-day follow-up workshop in 2007 for agricultural educators in Michigan. Training included conceptual sessions, skill-building sessions in the field, and practice creating a grazing plan. Since the training two workshops are being organized collaboratively by training participants. Counties with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff training participants have maintained or increased the number of Prescribed Grazing contracts from 2007 to 2008 and account for 49% of all Prescribed Grazing acres statewide.
Our objectives were to increase the knowledge base of agricultural educators in managed rotational grazing and to increase their confidence in delivering the material to farmers. Some our longer term outcomes were not realized as fully as we had intended because we received funding for only one year of our proposed two-year project. Our original intended outcomes were as follows.
Short term outcomes:
Ten Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservationists, 6 Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) Educators, 10 Conservation District staff, and eight Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) members:
-will have increased knowledge and enhanced awareness of grazing and pasture management concepts, and conservation and soil quality benefits of well managed grazing,
-will have increased knowledge and enhanced awareness of grazing planning procedures, fencing and watering system options and economic considerations in grazing systems,
-will develop skills of building fence, setting up watering systems, moving livestock, monitoring pasture, developing a grazing plan, and developing a financial plan for managed grazing,
-will have an introductory level understanding of the Holistic Management® decision making framework and Holistic Management Planned Grazing®,
-will be fully aware of USDA program support for grazing and pasture management.
10 NRCS conservationists will complete NRCS Modules MI0027Pasture and Hayland Planting, MI0045 Prescribed Grazing, MI0057 Fence and MI0059 Forage Plant Identification in two years.
and NRCS staff will be able to independently write and design prescribed grazing plans to meet client objectives.
This training program will result in a cohort of capable trainers. Specific intermediate outcomes include:
-increased confidence and enhanced ability of program participants to provide technical support and USDA program support for grazing and pasture management,
-greater collaboration among NRCS, MSUE and CD staff for improved grazing management,
-greater participation in MGLCI,
-and agricultural educators with a more holistic approach to grazing systems management.
Long term outcomes:
-transfer of technology from trainers to farmers raising livestock on pasture,
-enhanced economic viability of farmers raising livestock on pasture,
-improved livestock health by conversion from confinement to pasture-based operations,
-and improved condition of several thousand acres of Michigan pasture as a result of better pasture management, and decreased soil erosion through conversion of hundreds of acres of erodible cropland to permanent pasture.