Bale Grazing to Build Soil Health

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2018: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2020
Grant Recipient: Gaugler Farms and Ranch
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Erin Gaugler
Gaugler Farm and Ranch

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, feed/forage, grazing - rotational, pasture renovation, pasture fertility, range improvement, rangeland/pasture management, winter forage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research, technical assistance
  • Soil Management: nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil analysis, soil chemistry, soil microbiology, soil quality/health

    Proposal summary:

    This project is designed to address the resource concerns of land that was historically farmed with no inputs and depleted to a point of no longer being productive. To rejuvenate the land and demonstrate how sustainable agriculture can be adapted to fit each operation, project coordinators will use bale grazing. This management strategy allows us to demonstrate a practice that is ecologically sound, profitable and socially responsible.

    Research from multiple universities has shown that bale grazing can increase nutrient capture, cycling, carbon sequestration, and more. It has been shown that it can reduce the direct costs of labor, machinery, maintenance, fuel and fertilizer costs. What research hasn’t been able to show is the real world application that combines all areas of focus and is available for producers to see the benefits and challenges of adopting a sustainable practice like bale grazing. As project coordinators, we feel a social responsibility to provide others with the opportunity to ask questions and consider the options for their own operation. It is through projects like this that sustainable agriculture will become a term that is better understood and more readily adopted.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Improve soil health and fertility, eliminate use of commercial fertilizer

    2. Increase nutrient cycling and reduce nutrient runoff

    3. Improve herbage production and forage quality

    4. Improve herd health by extending grazing season

    5. Reduce feed and labor costs

    6.  Monitor effects on pollinator habitat

    7. Share findings through self-guided tours, field days, extension publications and testimonials to improve understanding of sustainable agriculture

    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.