- Agronomic: grass (misc. perennial), hay
- Additional Plants: native plants
- Animals: bovine
- Animal Production: grazing - continuous, grazing management, mineral supplements, pasture fertility, range improvement, grazing - rotational, stockpiled forages, stocking rate, watering systems, feed/forage
- Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, workshop, youth education, technical assistance
- Energy: energy conservation/efficiency, wind power
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, agricultural finance, risk management
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, indicators, wetlands, wildlife
- Pest Management: eradication, field monitoring/scouting, flame, physical control, prevention, weed ecology
- Production Systems: holistic management
- Soil Management: soil microbiology, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: leadership development, new business opportunities, partnerships, employment opportunities, sustainability measures
- Project Duration: 2 years plus one year of no-cost extension
- Date of Report: 3/10/2016
Calvin Adams has a 400 acre custom livestock grazing operation. This operation is a combination of native warm season grasses and introduced cool season grasses.
Ted Alexander has a 7,000 acre custom livestock grazing operation. This operation is completely native warm season grasses.
Cade Rensink operates a fifth generation family ranch. The commercial cow herd is managed primarily on native warm season rangeland. There is also a small back-grounding yard and diversified hay enterprise.
These ranchers are great conservationists, being locally, regionally and nationally recognized for their skills in applying grazing systems and management practices to the land.
Previous SARE Grants: FNC07-660, FNC09-732, and FNC10-798
The number one goal of this project was to develop a student summer internship program where qualified and interested young people could gain hands-on experience from qualified and experienced rancher/mentors in animal husbandry, business management, grazing systems, and grass management.
Additionally, we wanted to extend the project to include multiple states in a “Great Plains” project coordinated through each state’s existing Grazing Lands Coalition organization. We hope to submit an NCR-SARE Professional Development Program (PDP) proposal soon.
There is a need for ranch internships and additional range and pasture management training. Most of the nearly 670,000 ranchers in the U.S. are over 58 years old and will pass their businesses on to the next generation within the next 10 years. Many of these businesses, extremely important to their local community, will transfer to other family members. However, there are a significant number of ranchers who don’t have a family member interested in acquiring the business.
These ranchers often sell the assets of the operation to other members of the community; however, as is too often the case, the new owners aren’t residents of the county or state. The result is a net decrease in the number of businesses and families within the rural community.
Because of our extensive literature search prior to our initial grant application we knew there had been few agriculture internship programs directed at range and ranch management. We found several internships associated with other agricultural businesses such as feedlot management, feed and seed companies, and intensive vegetable production but only two within the ranching business. We are now discovering why that may have happened.
The objective of this project was to provide the ranchers without an apparent heir well trained young people who can become that next generation of ranch owner. The owners who are going to retire and do not have an heir but recognize the importance of their business to the community, and who may want to preserve their legacy, these are the ones we want to influence -- it is these soon to retire operators who we are targeting building relationships with.
It has become very apparent that several subjects of major importance to ranch business success such as plant identification, forage production, forage management, and responsiveness to drought are not taught to successive generations on the ranch. Traditional educational institutions teach the scientific theory of these subjects but don’t provide the students with the practical application as it relates to sustainable and/or profitable implementation.