Grazing School Helps Landowners Make Decisions, Transition to Grass-Based Systems
Posted: April 6, 2012
On the first evening, Mena Hautau, Extension Educator, and Dan Ludwig, regional NRCS Grazing Specialist introduced the economics of grazing – increasing profitability by decreasing input costs and using nutrient resources available in the land – and considerations for paddocks, fencing, and water sources. Participants were eager to learn more about the cost share programs available through NRCS. To learn more about the opportunities NRCS has available, check out their website at: http://www.pa.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ and find your local office at http://www.pa.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/index.html#Field_Office_Locations_Contact_Numbers.
On the second evening, participants learned the importance of planting grasses suitable for the land. Both perennial and annual grasses were explored. For more information on a variety of specific grasses, check out Penn State Extension and College of Agricultural Sciences’ Agronomy Fact Sheets at http://cropsoil.psu.edu/extension/facts. Transitioning crop land to grazing pastures was also introduced.
On the final evening, Jodi Torock, Extension Educator for the Start Farming program, talked about forage quality and the importance of providing adequate dry matter for livestock and how to plan for times when quality forage may not be readily available (Extending the Grazing Season: http://cropsoil.psu.edu/extension/facts/agronomy-facts-41). Dan Ludwig guided participants on how to size their paddocks – and time rotations - based upon the amount of dry matter available, which is key to effectively utilizing the forage available (http://cropsoil.psu.edu/extension/facts/agronomy-facts-43).
Participants were encouraged to obtain a soil survey map of their land through either www.paonestop.org or http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov. Each class focused on a different aspect of pasture and paddock planning, and participants were able to mark out fences, possibly locations for lane ways and water sources, and gain feedback from course instructors and fellow participants.If you are interested in learning more about grazing livestock, be sure to look for the 2013 grazing school in Berks County, or check out the pasture management courses in Bucks and Northampton Counties. Northampton County’s program will be held on July 10, 17, 24, and 31, 2012.