Sustainable Agricultural Workshops for Land Managers

Project Overview

Project Type: Research to Grass Roots
Funds awarded in 2022: $74,900.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2024
Host Institution Award ID: G147-23-W9216
Grant Recipient: Cottonwood Ranch LLC
Region: Western
State: Nevada
Principal Investigator:
Agee Smith
Cottonwood Ranch LLC
Gerald Miller
State of Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Agee Smith
Cottonwood Ranch LLC


Not commodity specific


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, feed/forage, grazing management, rangeland/pasture management
  • Crop Production: no-till
  • Education and Training: workshop
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, carbon sequestration, habitat enhancement
  • Production Systems: holistic management
  • Soil Management: composting, earthworms, organic matter, soil analysis, soil chemistry, soil microbiology, soil physics, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    In 1996 Cottonwood Ranch began practicing Holistic Resource Management with funding from SARE for Ranchers.  Refer to 2007 SARE publication: Agee Smith Profile

    A collaborative team was formed, which included ranches, Federal and State agencies, surrounding Universities, local community leaders and general public.  Twenty-five years later it continues to be active with many participants returning year after year. This collaboration has expanded into an even greater area with the Sustainable Agriculture of Northeast Elko (SANE) and Nevada Collaborative Conservation Networks. The Cottonwood Ranch facilities offer a unique networking and learning environment enabling attendees and teachers to share experiences and ideas.

    The ranch was put into experimental status with the Federal agencies to demonstrate intensive grazing management. Since the original SARE funding Cottonwood Ranch has successfully implemented:  FW 04-207:  Improving intake on big sagebrush by cattle in fall and winter to reduce feed cost and improve biodiversity and productivity in the sagebrush steppe.  Cottonwood Ranch also participated in EW 17–025:  Grazing Strategy Indices for Range Quality Assurance. 

    The experiments were and continue to be very successful range management practices including a 68% improvement in riparian conditions.   The ranch is also working on their historically flood irrigated meadows that have been depleted in nutrients, organic matter and living organisms and has made significant strides by using cover cropping, livestock management and irrigation water management to improve soil tilth.  The ranch has held various natural resources workshops.  Prior to Covid 19 they had held an annual Stockmanship workshop instructed by Steve Cote, Roger Ingram and Whit Hibbard.  Cottonwood Ranch's location and lodging facilities lends itself to be an ideal spot to hold land management workshops on a working livestock operation bringing hands on experiences to the participants.  


    Project objectives from proposal:

    Our project objectives are as follows:

    1. Increase knowledge and acceptance of new resource management practices (soils, stockmanship, monitoring, riparian health) through experiencial learning. Some areas that will be covered are virtual fencing, livestock grazing practices, bioengineering, fish ladders, encouraging beaver habitat, carbon holding potential of soils and soil health, and the State of Nevada Sage-Grouse conservation program.
    2. To provide a locally conducive learning environment for Land Managers on a working ranch.
    3. To provide a venue of comfort amongst like-minded individuals thus promoting a safe place to ask questions, discuss concepts and provide observations based on their life experiences.
    4. Conduct at least seven workshops over the next two growing seasons.
    5. To bring the university research and various outside knowledge to the rural areas.  Holding these workshops in a environment that our audience is comfortable being in will help  folks who prefer a rural venue vs. having to travel to a big city for education.



    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.