Can Intensive Rotational Grazing in combination with Indigenous Microorganism Application improve soil condition (i.e., soil carbon, minerals, and microbial life)?

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2018: $19,953.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2020
Grant Recipient: Graze and Sprout Farm
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Kyle Fisher
Graze and Sprout Farm

Information Products

Presentation Material (Conference/Presentation Material)
Presentation Video (Conference/Presentation Material)


Not commodity specific


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, feed management, grazing management, grazing - multispecies, grazing - rotational, pasture fertility, stocking rate
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, carbon sequestration
  • Soil Management: nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil analysis, soil microbiology, soil quality/health

    Proposal summary:

    Can Intensive Rotational Grazing in combination with Indigenous Microorganism Application
    improve soil condition (i.e., soil carbon, minerals, and microbial life)?
    Half of the world's topsoil has been lost in the last 150 years.1
    The situation is becoming so
    severe that some experts believe that we will run out of topsoil in 60 years.2
    Overgrazing livestock has been identified as one of the main contributors to soil degradation
    and topsoil loss.1
    Static state or minimal rotation grazing of domestic grazing animals results in
    compaction of soil, loss of cover, and topsoil erosion.3
    On the other hand, removing wild, migratory
    grazing animals from rangelands has proven deleterious to ecosystems.4
    Thus, the question is: does
    overgrazing and soil loss arise from the presence of grazing animals or does it happen due to
    Our study aims to determine if soil condition can be improved by Intensive Rotational Grazing
    (IRG) in combination with Indigenous Microorganisms (IMO) cultivated by Korean Natural Farming
    methods. The treatment groups are the control (rested pasture/no treatment) vs. IRG Pasture
    (experimental groups: sheep alone; chickens alone; sheep + chickens; sheep + chickens + IMO).
    Parameters measured are soil organic carbon, minerals and microbiological activity. Sheep body
    condition score and parasite load (FAMACHA and fecal float) will be measured by a certified
    veterinarian to assure method is not at expense of animal health. All data will be collected at the start (t
    = 0) and end of the experiment (t = 1 year). Data will be analyzed across experimental groups
    (ANOVA) and between times (t-test). Presentation/demonstration will be given at the two largest
    Farmer's Union chapters on the island. Outreach in the form of flyers, social media, and letters will be
    done one month in advance to provide ample public information about the presentation.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The objectives are to determine if soil benefits are afforded via:
    (1) IRG (Sheep or Chickens alone)
    (2) Multispecies IRG (Sheep + Chickens)
    (3) Multispecies IRG + IMO (Sheep + Chickens + IMO)
    when compared to Rested Pasture and through time. Sheep health will be monitored for body
    condition and parasite load to assure rotational grazing is not done at the expense of the animal.

    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.