Managed Intensive Rotational Grazing for Farms Affected by Urban Growth
A controlled grazing system can help to preserve critical environmental areas, conserve open space and farmland, and promote livability and revitalization of rural areas. It can also help to balance out for the acreage lost to urban sprawl that has led to less land for agriculture, wildlife, and scenic vistas. Also, thy will have a production system that is environmentally conscious and acceptable to the community, which is especially important in areas surrounding metropolitan area. Other goals include improving use of existing pasture resources to provide forages that meet nutritional requirements of livestock, helping prevent or reverse soil erosion and water pollution, reducing weed infestation and the use of herbicides, and creating scenic landscapes.
1) To help farmers evaluate their farm resources, set goals, and design a farming system according to their background and aims,
2) To develop educational materials that document the steps to implementing a successful grazing system in a farm that is being affected by urban growth and its effects on the whole farm system: farm family and neighbors, livestock and other animals, plants, soil, and landscape,
3) To establish a record keeping system that will monitor changes and progress. To demonstrate this more vividly, farmers and non-farmers will be invited to attend field days to be held on each participating farm.
Results from this project can aid county officials when adjusting policies because of the rapid changes in population and development trends. This situation is more marked in the eastern part of the county because it borders the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area. Four of the seven farms in the project are located in this fast-developing area. Results from monitoring environmental impact and social opinion contrasting the eastern and western regions can be used to establish planning and zoning regulations.
Initial workshops will be held for sharing goals and objectives and designing a grazing system for each farm according to its own situation and characteristics. Extension and University of Minnesota personnel will assist in the design of grazing plans for each farm, in preparation of workshops to explain the concepts of grazing, and in teaching the farm system planning and monitoring techniques. Experienced graziers will also participate during these meetings to give their input on the development of each grazing plan. Extension personnel will make initial visits to each farm to help implement the soil and forage sampling, biodiversity monitoring, and record keeping procedures. At the end of grazing in year 1, all data will be summarized to show the effect of controlled grazing on soil, forage, and biodiversity. Participants will meet to discuss and analyze results of each system. Field days will be held on three farms during the fall of year 1.
During the second year, sampling, analyzing, monitoring and record keeping will be repeated. Field days will be held on four farms during the summer and fall of year 2. Special invitations will be made to urban school groups, county commissioners, and legislators in order to show the benefits of maintaining a rural landscape in counties greatly affected by urban growth.
Several methods will be used to disseminate results, such as field days, seminars, and workshops that will include farmers’ explanations of results of controlled grazing in their farms. Pictures and slides will be taken at the farms through out the project and can be used to set up a “virtual field day” to be posted on the University of Minnesota Extension Service web page. Extension personnel will also prepare publications to demonstrate results. To document the opinions of the community, those attending field days and seminars will be asked to take a survey and county officials will be interviewed. A publication showing the results will be written and sent to county commissioners and other elected officials.