By Mary Howell
The Amazing Grazing project has concluded. Forty different events over the last three years were held for farmers, ranchers and professionals. This series brought together industry experts and producers to enhance the ranching and grazing skills of hundreds of Kansans.
“We have had the greatest time delivering this program; I am sad to see it end. I have met the most wonderful group of ranchers. The networking and exchange of knowledge at these activities is always exciting!” said Mary Howell, program director. “Educational activities for ranchers has always been my passion. So for now, we are taking a break in programming until I can figure out what the next activities will be. So stay tuned!”
Amazing Grazing was created based on requests for information needed by producers at past grazing events. Three separate grants were submitted to help provide ranchers the information that they need to better operate their ranches and succeed in the business and livelihood that they love. This effort brought an outstanding group of educators, organizations, ranchers and topics together to provide educational events and networking opportunities on grazing management, improving soil health while producing forage using cover crops, mycorrhiza fungi, understanding how multi-species crops compliment and help improve the function of the pasture resource. Several workshops focused on specific topics like how to develop a grazing plan with consideration for drought, low stress livestock handling, managing small ruminant animals, value added products, direct marketing, cool season forages, agroforestry, electric fence and water systems. Ranchers had opportunities for hands on pasture experience to develop skills by actually observing plant communities, grazing situations, learning plant identification, evaluating soil, and practicing with instructor help and group discussion. Workshops and field days featuring nationally known instructors focused on how to improve grazing resources with soil health and management to reduce input costs. A healthy soil improves productivity and prosperity for livestock producers exploring managed grazing, alternative forage crops, ranching economics, and cost management. Producers learned how to figure actual production costs and better understand market demands and the trends in the meat industry effecting profitability.
“I would like to thank all of the collaborating partners, educators and participants for your contribution to the success of this project. We greatly appreciate your support and involvement. We couldn’t have done it without all of you!” concluded Mary Howell.
Amazing Grazing was a collaboration of KFU and the Kansas Graziers Association. Funding for this project was provided by the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center & USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture under Award Number 2012-49200-20032. Project partners were: Kansas Alliance for Wetlands & Streams, Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition, K-State Research and Extension, Farm Credit Associations of Kansas, Kansas Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Alternative Crops, and NRCS-Kansas. Stories and information can be found at AmazingGrazingKansas.com.
Amazing Grazing I
Enhancing Management and Marketing Opportunities for Kansas Graziers & Livestock Producers
- How to write a Ranch Plan, NRCS Specialists David Kraft, Dwayne Rice, Doug Spencer;
- Developing Water and Electric Fence, Mark Green, NRCS-MO;
- Short Grass Prairie Grazing Basics, Keith Harmoney, Hays;
- Grazing Basics, Animal Selection and Management, Jim Gerrish (ID);
- Converting Sunlight, Soil and Water into Beef Forage Tour, Dale Strickler, Courtland;
- Low-Stress Livestock Handling on the Ranch, Dr Lynn Locatelli DVM (NM);
- Low Stress Handling Field Day, Edwards, Hubbard, Avery ranches at Olsburg; and
- Healthy Soils, Healthy Cattle: Ranching in Nature’s Image KGA Winter Conference with KS NRCS Specialists.
Amazing Grazing II
For Ruminants both Great and Small
- Grazing Basics, Managing for Winter Grazing, Grazing Needs and Marketing for Sheep and Goats, Jim Gerrish, (ID);
- Hands on Small Ruminant Herd Health, Brian Faris, KSU;
- Livestock Fencing and Water Development for Small Ruminants, Mark Green, NRCS-MO;
- Using Cover Crops to Extend the Grazing Season, Dale Strickler, Courtland;
- Farming Transitions, Apprenticeships and Getting Started with Multiple Species and Enterprises, Cody Holmes (MO);
- Emergency Management Planning for Livestock Farms and Living Barns, Using Windbreaks for Protection, Joel DeRouchey & Charles Barden;
- Dairy Enterprise Exploration, Charuth van Beuzekom-Loth (NE) Jacqueline Smith, (MO) & Tana McCarter;
- Fiber Opportunities to Diversify Small Farms, Sally Barton & Rachael Boyle, Phillipsburg;
- Healthy Soils, Healthy Landscapes-Plant and Animal Interaction on the Range, Dr. Fred Provenza (UT);
- Meat Processing and Marketing for Optimal Sales, Brad Dieckmann, Rosanna Bauman & Melissa Wahl;and
- Co-sponsor of KSU Sheep Day.
Amazing Grazing III
Soil Health for Ranch $uccess
- Introduction to Forestry and Alley Cropping, Foresters from Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska;
- Five Pastures Walks with Dale Kirkham and NRCS-KS;
- Mycorrhizal Fungi and Soil Health, Larry Simpson & Dr. Christine Jones;
- Tour of the Land Institute, Wes Jackson, Salina;
- Cover Crop-Soil Health Bus Tour, North Central Kansas;
- Fuller Farms Cover Crops and Soil Health Field Days, Dr. Christine Jones, Gabe Brown, & Gail Fuller at Emporia;
- Livestock Fencing and Water Development, Mark Green-, NRCS-MO;
- Economics of the Livestock Industry, Bill Helming & Jim Gerrish, Topeka;
- Getting Started in Grazing, Jim Gerrish, Salina;
- 3-Day Grazing School, Jim Gerrish, Courtland;
- Eastern Kansas Cool Season Grazing, Gary Kilgore and Keith Harmoney, Lawrence;
- KGA Winter Grazing Conference: Grass, Soil and Hope, Courtney White (NM), Gail Fuller & Dale Strickler, Salina; and
- How to Handle Cattle without Getting Handled, Lucinda Stuenkel, Manhattan.