Increase Forage Production and Reduce Soil Erosion Through Rotational Grazing

Project Overview

FNC02-398
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2002: $5,340.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $7,966.00
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:

Commodities

  • Agronomic: grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Animals: bovine

Practices

  • Animal Production: pasture renovation, range improvement, grazing - rotational, watering systems, feed/forage
  • Natural Resources/Environment: riverbank protection, soil stabilization
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health

    Summary:

    Increase Forage Productiion And Reduce Soil Erosion Through Rotational Grazing

    Editors Summary:
    Carroll Raspberry and his brother Frank raise pure bred and cross-bred cattle, mostly black (Limousin, Angus, Simmental) on their farm. This 115 acre family farm was purchased in the early sixties. Approximately 60 acres are used as open grazing land for their herd of 40 cattle. The land has a slope of 5-10 percent and there is a one acre pond located at the lower edge of the field.

    The Raspberry brothers try to get the best out of each breed and normally feed out seven to ten heifers a year from their own cows. Pastures are brome, fescue, red clover and white clover and a small amount of alfalfa. The Raspberrys fertilize their pastures in fall and spring and they bale hay on other farms to keep enough pasture on their own farm for their cows. The Raspberrys also try to change bulls every two years so that no daughters are bred by their own sires.

    Prior to the grant project the Raspberry farm was subject to overgrazing and lack of soil conservation measures This resulted in a drastic loss of top soil from the pasture. There was only one water source available to the cattle on the pasture, causing heavy animal traffic within a small area, making the land susceptible to erosion. Both sheet and gully erosion were present on the farm. The land had been eroded to the point where it simply couldn’t meet the foraging needs of the herd without the use of chemical fertilizers. In addition, the silt from the eroded land was being deposited in the pond, thereby polluting the only source of water for the farm’s herd of beef cattle.

    Project Objective:
    To put in place an improved grazing management system that would meet the feed requirements of their beef cattle, while substantially reducing soil erosion from the grazed land.

    Improvements that were planned included:
    1. Control of soil erosion
    2. Improvement of soil productivity
    3. Increasing the production of quality forage
    4. Healthier herd
    5. Stabilizing the pond bank

    Results
    The Raspberrys mildly graded the pastureland to smooth rough spots using National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Soil and Water Conservation District and other county resources. They built a couple of low ridges across the slope to slow down water run-off. They spread available manure, compost and organic fertilizers especially in areas where forages were spotty. A fescue variety dominated some parts of their pasture. To improve the quality of forage seeds of leguminous forage crops were drilled into the pasture. The Raspberrys kept their cattle away from the pasture during the “rejuvenation period.”. They divided the rejuvenated pasture into 10 to 12 paddocks, putting the entire herd in one paddock for two to three days. By the time the herd was returned to the first paddock, approximately 36 days would have elapsed, allowing sufficient time for the re- growth of the pasture plants. This system required setting up a movable electric fence, as well as a source of drinking water in each paddock. Providing drinking water in each paddock eliminated the animal traffic on the pond that caused some of the soil erosion. Measures were also taken to strengthen the pond bank by planting grass, herbs, and trees. The Raspberrys were very pleased with the outcome of their rotational grazing efforts since it did indeed reduce erosion on their hilly ground. They adopted the following practices as well:
    a. Used clover and alfalfa.
    b. Built up the soil.
    c. Improved cows’ milk production
    d. Increased gain on calves.

    The Raspberrys extend their appreciation for the efforts put in by the following people/organizations:
    1. Annada Elavator
    2. Adams Feritizer
    3. Adams Seeds
    4. C & L Fencing
    5. Daryl Chatman
    6. SARE 7. Central State Bank, ILL
    8. University of Nebraska
    9. Lincoln University

    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.