The Dirt on Conservation: Event offers education for graziers

If you have a serious case of cabin fever, like I do, you will be glad to read that the Eastern Ohio Grazing Council is kicking off the pasture walk series at the end of the month. This is the second year for this group to have these educational meetings in the field.

During the winter, we have been able to have more of a classroom education on soil fertility and soil test analysis, filing your farm taxes and animal nutrition. These three meetings were held at Camp Muskingum, the FFA camp.

Now it is time to move outdoors, walk the land and put good grazing management on the landscape.

With the weather breaking and green grass growing, the Eastern Ohio Grazing Council will be moving outdoors April 28 to Betty Mills’ beef operation.

First meeting

The evening will start at 6 p.m. at Mills’ farm located at 5244 Marble Road, Kensington, Ohio. This will be a great opportunity for people interested in getting started grazing, as well as more experienced with graziers.

Because this is a new and upcoming grazing operation, we are going to have the chance to lay out a grazing system with different paddock and fence options. Everyone will have chance to review a current aerial photo of the farm and make suggestions. This should stimulate some great discussion because different graziers, no matter what experience level, will have differing opinions on gate placement, watering facilities, and movement of livestock from each paddock to the next and of course fence construction.

Delivering water

Another topic of discussion of April 28 will be watering options in remote locations. Obviously livestock need water. In order to have an efficient grazing operation, the watering facility needs to be in close proximity to the livestock.

Several producers have used innovative methods to deliver water to their livestock and will be sharing their experiences with the group.

If the farmers cannot answer your questions, there will be several representatives from the USDA-NRCS and local Soil and Water Conservation District to give technical information such as matching pump and pipe size to the water needs, the daily water requirements for different species of livestock, or alternatives for pumping water.

Invasive weeds and woody brush can compete with the grass and clover in our pasture systems, which can lead to a decrease in productivity. During the April 28 pasture walk, the group will discuss options to control weeds and brush in pastures.

Typically, no single practice will produce or maintain weed-free pastures. This meeting could help organize a system that combines preventative, cultural, mechanical and chemical measures to keep invasive or unwanted species from spreading.

By evaluating the weeds presently in the fields and devising a plan for pasture improvement, graziers should be able to achieve more production from their pastures with perseverance and good management.

More events

The Eastern Ohio Grazing Council has already scheduled the events for May 26 at Kendall Bick’s farm in Carroll County and June 23 at Charlie Cleaver’s in Jefferson County. So if you would like to join an enthusiastic group of farmers/graziers mark these dates on your calendar and plan to attend.

Not only will it be a learning opportunity, it is also a chance to socialize with like-minded individuals.

If you have questions on the pasture walks, the Eastern Ohio Grazing Council, or if you are in Columbiana County and would rather have me make a field visit to discuss grazing management on your operation, contact me.

(Pete Conkle is the district program administrator for Columbiana Soil & Water Conservation District. Born and raised in Columbiana County, he assists in managing the family farm near Hanoverton and has worked for the SWCD since 2002. Questions or comments can be sent in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem OH 44460.)

About the Author

Pete Conkle is the District Program Administrator for Columbiana Soil & Water Conservation District. Born and raised in Columbiana County, he assists in managing the family farm near Hanoverton and has been working for Columbiana SWCD since 2002. More Stories by Pete Conkle

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