- Agronomic: grass (misc. perennial), hay
- Additional Plants: native plants
- Animal Production: free-range, grazing management, grazing - continuous, grazing - rotational, pasture renovation, pasture fertility, range improvement, rangeland/pasture management
- Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, whole farm planning
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, carbon sequestration
- Production Systems: agroecosystems
- Soil Management: nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil microbiology, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, quality of life, sustainability measures
The problem addressed was insufficient income from the ranch to compensate for owners’ labor. The proposed solution was to increase profits by increasing soil fertility and water holding capacity to increase animal productivity. The research approach involved applying three different natural additives to three areas of the pasture and leaving a fourth area untreated to serve as a control area. The three additives were: 1) a biological solution of fish emulsion, raw milk and a little molasses; 2) sea minerals; and 3) a product called GroPal Balance which is a combination of biological solution and sea minerals. Soil tests were conducted at the beginning of year 1 and year 2 and at the end of year 2 (for the 2-year project).
The soil tests initially showed an improvement in the organic matter and overall soil health of the treated areas. The final test, however, showed improvement in all areas, including the control area. This may have been due to the rotational grazing which has been practiced on this pasture for the past 5 years. There does seem to be an increase in productivity of the pasture as a whole when comparing calf crops and slaughter weights. Two years, one with good rainfall and the second with poor rainfall and other production challenges, is hardly enough to prove the success or failure of the practices employed and the farmers will continue monitoring and evaluating the effects of these additives. Overall, the farmers plan to continue with applying the GroPal Balance due to the ease of use. Sea minerals will continue to be offered as a mineral supplement.
Project objectives:div style="margin-left:1em;">
Compare soil health of pasture as measured by soil tests, visualization and soil aggregates in areas where 1) no additive is applied, 2 ) a biological solution is applied, 3) sea minerals are applied, or 4) a combination product is applied.