Management Intensive Grazing: Foundation of Sustainable Agriculture in the South (LST96-009)
The objectives of this project are to provide comprehensive management intensive grazing (MIG) to national Cooperative Extension Service (NCES), Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) personnel, and innovative livestock producers stationed in the humid, temperate and subtropical Golf South through a training project. Specifically:
1) Demonstrate via lectures and hands-on field training the economic, environmental and agricultural benefits of MIG relative to conventional agriculture.
2) Illustrate the role of MIG in comprehensive sustainable agriculture planning;
3) Train participants to assess farm suitability (soils, pastures, building, equipment) for MIG;
4) Train participants how to teach field management to other farmers;
5) Develop and distribute training videos that will supplement participant knowledge;
6) Develop and distribute fact sheets on MIG in the South for use by participants and clientele.
Workshops were conducted in April, May and September 1995 to train participants in management intensive grazing. Participants included producers and Natural Resource Conservation Service personnel from Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia and Alabama with one Cooperative Extension Service agent from Kentucky and one from Louisiana. The workshops were conducted for three days with both classroom and field sessions.
The itinerary included as oral presentations in the classroom:
*The science of grazing management
*Plant growth basics: energy flows, nutrient cycling, fundamentals of growth
*Understanding soils and the landscape
*Resources of the farm
*Economics of management intensive grazing
*Forage quality, animal requirements and intake
*Meeting nutritional needs of livestock
*Matching livestock and forage resources
*Forage system strategies for year-round nutrition
*Controlled rotational grazing: putting it all together
*MIG on my farm
*Grazing Land Applications and nutritional balance
Field demonstrations with hands-on experiences included
*Participant groups grazing demonstration
*Keeping pasture records
*Field pasture assessment
*Forage harvest efficiency
*Forages for year-round grazing
*Soils in the field
*Quantity measurements and species identification
Fact sheets have been written and included in a notebook for each participant with the titles:
*The role of ruminant animals in sustainable agriculture
*The forage growth and its relationship to grazing management
*Understanding soils and landscapes
*Estimating forage yield
*Grazing dynamics of beef cattle
*Proper grazing use
*Fringe benefits of rotational grazing
*Economics of management intensive grazing
*Forage management, practical applications
*Determining winter pasture stocking rates
*No substitute for good management
Participants have been surveyed to determine constraints against establishing intensive grazing management. Personal management expertise of livestock and forages are always listed as the first constraints followed by fencing systems and operating capital with soil fertility, water availability, and livestock working facilities being less important. Producers indicate the consideration of implementing MIG is the result of a need for improvement in sustainability. This list shows these changes include increasing utilization of existing forage, livestock numbers (carrying capacity), grazing efficiency, economics of livestock operation, milk production, animal control while decreasing labor and input costs and the amount of field work.
Technical personnel have listed priority areas for training in MIG as:
1) Knowledge of intensive management systems in general,
2) Fencing, water and shade requirements,
3) Forage species selection and management, and
4) Bridging the summer production slump.
The technical personnel attending these workshops have indicated that they were not able to adequately answer producers questions concerning intensive grazing. All participants were asked if their perception of importance of the topics listed as constraints had changed during the course of the workshop. Forage management, water availability, manure management and environmental quality issues were the constraints listed as the highest priorities.
Responses by participants indicated an increased need for training in Management Intensive Grazing with increased involvement by Extension and NRCS personnel with producers who are participating in sustainable agriculture programs. Follow up surveys will be conducted to evaluate the level of MIG participation by trainers and the degree of implementation by producers. A video on MIG is currently being produced. This video would be beneficial to trainers as well as producers interested in MIG practices.