In Practice a publication of Holistic Management International
SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2013
w w w. h O l i S T i C M a N a g E M E N T. O R g
~ INSIDE THIS ISSUE ~
Expanding the Circle
Starting a Farm
By SALLIE CALHOUN
ow can we get more ranchers to try Holistic Management? How can we help people who do try Holistic Management be more successful? How can we get more people to incorporate Holistic Management into their day-today management? These are questions that have faced HMI and the Holistic Management community for years. There is obviously no single answer, but a group of central California ranchers and educators have some ideas that are currently being tested in the new Rancher–to–Rancher program. The program was born early this year during a meeting at the Morris Ranch in San Juan Bautista. The group discussed best and worst possible outcomes of trying to get a broad group of ranchers involved in trials on their ranches, and what the characteristics of such a program might look like. Key points behind the thinking were:
1. The first animals we are trying to increase on our ranches are the soil microbes, especially the fungi. 2. If we plan our grazing and feed the microbes, we will increase the vegetation on the ranch for cattle, sheep, or microbes. 3. Increased vegetation is increased wealth. 4. There is no set recipe – there are ingredients, principles, and management. 5. Everything happens within the context of your holistic goal. What do you want, and what does it take to get that? CONTINUED ON PAGE 18
9 Rules for Starting a Farm
FoRREST PRITCHARd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
How Holistic Management Helped Me to Buy the Farm
AllySon AngElInI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Calves versus yearlings— gross Profit Analysis don CAMPBEll
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HMI 2012 Annual Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
Land & Livestock
The day ended with clear ideas on how to start the program and commitment from the group to support the effort. The consensus was that it was important to get started, monitor, and re-plan as necessary. The idea is to help ranchers set up a small, no-risk learning site on their ranches of a few acres or less. The rancher concentrates livestock there for a few hours to a day once or twice a year, thereby ensuring a substantial recovery period. There is support for the planning to work within the rancher’s goals and requirements, simple monitoring of the soil surface, and optional carbon baseline plots. Most ranches have small areas that are already fenced or small areas can be set up using electric fence. There is no need to worry about water as the animals are only there for a few hours. With a small area, it is easy to stick with the plan and allow the recovery period. In the best case, the trial is set up to involve neighbors, burgers, and beer. The program kick-off happened in April at Hollister Hills State Park where Joe Morris grazes. About 40 ranchers gathered for a day to learn about the program, eat burgers, drink beer, and see a demonstration of high stock density. There was an introduction to holistic goal setting and the ecosystem processes. Joe and the other presenters made a number of important points.
Any start up business is challenging, but farming and ranching can be even more challenging. Learn how Holistic Management helped Allyson Angelini start her farm on page 4.
News & Network
1. Create an opportunity for peer to peer learning and support on an ongoing basis. 2. Minimize the cost and risk of trying something new. 3. Make it simple yet meaningful. 4. Make it fun.
Holistic Planned Cropping— The Quest for a Continuous live Root in Cropping Systems
Ann AdAMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
The A-8 Ranch – Recovering from a Flood
HEATHER SMITH THoMAS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
development Corner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Book Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Certified Educators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 Marketplace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21
9 Rules for Starting a Farm by FORREST PRITCHARD
In Practice a publication of Holistic Management International
Holistic Management International exists to educate people to manage land for a sustainable future. STAFF Peter holter . . . . . . . Chief Executive Officer Kelly Curtis. . . . . . . . Chief Financial Officer ann adams. . . . . . . . Managing Editor, In PRACTICE and Director, Community Services Sandy langelier. . . . Director, Communications and Outreach Frank aragona . . . . . Director, Programs Matt Parrack . . . . . . . Director, Development Peggy Sechrist. . . . . Development Advisor Peggy Maddox . . . . . Program Advisor Peggy Cole . . . . . . . . Project Manager, Texas Mary girsch-Bock . . Grants Manager Carrie Nelson . . . . . . Store Manager / Customer Support Julie Kare . . . . . . . . . Instructional Design Specialist
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Sallie Calhoun, Chair Ben Bartlett, Past Chair Kelly Sidoryk, Vice-Chair Jim Shelton, Treasurer Judi Earl, Secretary Ron Chapman Zizi Fritz Laura Gill Gail Hammack Clint Josey Wayne Knight Sam Montoya Jim Parker Michael Podolny
HOLISTIC MANAGEMENT In Practice (ISSN: 1098-8157) is published six times a year by: Holistic Management International 5941 Jefferson St. NE, Suite B Albuquerque, NM 87109 505/842-5252, fax: 505/843-7900; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.; website: www.holisticmanagement.org
Copyright © 2013
2 IN PRACTICE
ou’ve dreamed of becoming a farmer, growing food not just for yourself but for your greater community. you yearn to work with the soil, and are prepared for a life of physical toil, intellectual challenges, and uncertain finances. All that’s left is to trade in your suit and tie for sturdy boots and a dilapidated hat. Congratulations. The world needs you. According to an article in The Atlantic, there are currently more bus drivers than farmers in the united States. While at first glance this might seem like an arbitrary statistic, consider this: which is more likely to happen first, a bus driver needing to eat, or a farmer needing a bus ticket? Food ranks in the upper echelon of human needs, right beside oxygen, sleep, and cuddling with your sweetheart. The planet needs nutritious food, and that requires thoughtful, intelligent people to grow it. So if you’re genuinely considering farming as a career, tape the following 9 rules for starting a farm to your refrigerator, tack them to your barn door, or commit them to memory. After fifteen years of running my own farm, these lessons were hard won, but continue to serve me well. As you pursue your own farming dream, keep them in the forefront of your mind. Following them might not guarantee success, but they will certainly put you on the path to economic and agricultural sustainability.
9 Rules for Starting Your Own Farm Rule #1: Avoid Debt! Farming doesn’t have to be financed with borrowed money. Avoiding debt should be a primary goal for any new farmer, even if they have to start very, very small for a few years. That’s how our farm started. And clearly, I still save my pennies. Why is this #1? Why does it have an exclamation point after it? Because—listen up—in the past fifty years, debt has tanked more farms than drought, plague, and pestilence combined. If there’s one thing our national housing crisis has reinforced, it’s how economically debilitating debt can be for the average person. Farmers aren’t immune to these challenges. legions of great producers have abandoned their farming dreams simply because they couldn’t pay their debt when the bank came calling. In a nutshell, debt (borrowing money, with interest) allows us to accelerate our goals,
September / October 2013
turning dreams of tomorrow into realities of today. While borrowed money might buy us a tractor, a new barn, or even the land we’ll be farming, experience, the most valuable farming asset of all, cannot be purchased. Experience doesn’t come with a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture, and it certainly doesn’t come from a book. Agriculture is fraught with uncertainties, surprises, and intellectual challenges. And that’s just before lunch. Adding monthly payments to this intimidating list financially handcuffs most people right from the start. So does this mean ‘never take on debt’? Certainly not. There are plenty of times when leveraging assets makes sense. As you gain farming experience, and create reliable cash flow in your business, these opportunities (or necessities) will become clearer. In the meantime, however, embrace this generalization: avoid debt as much as possible.
Rule #2: Allow Yourself the Opportunity to Fail Wait a minute. This was supposed to be about not failing, and now we’re saying failure’s an opportunity? Ironic, I know. Bear with me. our culture seems obsessed with failure, simultaneously terrified and captivated with the concept. I know people who spend their days avoiding the humiliation of failure at all costs. Some of these people fear failure so much, they never try to accomplish anything. The thought of failure paralyzes them. If failure is a major concern to you, here’s a spoiler: in farming, you will fail. 100% chance. In fact, with apologies to Benjamin Franklin, failure on a farm is every bit as reliable as death, taxes, and Paul Schaffer calling a rimshot. But here’s what no one ever told me. It’s okay to fail. Moreover, in farming, it’s important to fail. While painful at first, failure can be an enormously useful tool. It Smith Meadows Farm now is at helps us 6 different farmers’ markets in learn our the Washington D.C. area.
personal limits of time and energy. It’s an instrumental timesaver in the long run, letting us know what works well, and what’s a complete boondoggle. Failure provides us perspective for future enterprises, making us intellectually stronger, more emotionally resilient. So, thumb your nose at that sagging bookshelf loaded with self-help books telling you you’re not a failure. yes you are! get out there and fail! But while you’re failing, fail well. Fail gracefully and thoughtfully. It’s the only sure way to recognize success when it finally arrives.
Rule #3: Identify Your Market Before You Start Farming So you want to raise cattle, grow watermelons, or start a sauerkraut business. Maybe you just want to sell wool to local knitters. Awesome. I like steaks, sauerkraut, and knit caps as much as the next guy. But how are you going to find customers like me? do I live in your neighborhood, or five hundred miles away? How much of your stuff will I buy? How will you find others like me? What will you do if I buy All of your stuff, and you’re sold out? What will you do if I buy nonE of your stuff, and you’ve got a barn full of it? Before you plant that first seed, jar your first kraut, or shear your first ewe, take the time (lots and lots of time) to figure out where you’re going to sell your products, who is going to buy them, and how you’re going to do it. once you’ve done this, create a backup plan. Then, come up with another backup plan. Chances are you’re going to need them. Small and niche producers spend an enormous amount of effort finding their customers. This is every bit as important as growing the food to begin with, because without appropriate sales channels, fresh produce will quickly languish. When all those watermelons ripen at the exact same moment, you’ll need a place to sell them—and fast. Have a solid marketing plan prepared well in advance.
Rule #4: Match the Land to Its Suited Use We can try to force our human dreams onto the land, or we can work with what nature gives us. on our farm, wild turkeys, deer, cottontail rabbits, and raccoons naturally flourish. As such, it’s no coincidence that we’re able to raise free-range chickens, sheep, cattle, and pigs on our land. While the correlations may not be identical, when we stand back for a moment and consider the landscape, there’s a nice pattern here. Conversely, a few years back, we tried raising free-range ducks. We learned the hard
Smith Meadows Farm takes their cues from Nature. In the Mid-Atlantic, grazing, foraging and gleaning opportunities present themselves nearly year-round. way how they evinced their waterfowl instincts: In a matter of weeks, they turned acres of pasture into muddy ponds. They methodically tipped over their automatic watering troughs (it’s a long story, but trust me, they did it), creating sloppy watering holes in our pastures that we dubbed ‘quack mires.’ In their own way, ducks were telling us that they belonged near water, not out on pasture. We listened. The following season, we stopped raising ducks and have been happier ever since.
Rule #5: Grow Your Passion Everyone knows that farming is hard work. So do yourself a favor: grow something that you love. like blueberries? Then grow blueberries, for Pete’s sake. If you grow what you’re passionate about, it will help mitigate those difficult days when the sledding gets rough and things don’t go your way. It may seem like common sense, but we often find our decisions driven more by finances, tradition, or inertia than by something we truly love. go out on a limb, and grow heirloom apples if you want. Consider it your first reward. There will be more.
Rule #6: Set Reasonable Goals yes, yes, we all know that you were a double major, the captain of the fencing team, and turned down a Fulbright to construct
Mongolian yurts in the Peace Corps. you’re talented, we get it. now repeat after me: “It’s okay if I can’t feed the entire state of nebraska, so long as I can supply my local market. It’s okay if I don’t make ‘X’ number of dollars this year, as long as all of my bills are paid. It’s okay if I don’t add an additional enterprise, until I get really good at the 3 other enterprises I’m already trying to master.” yes, you workaholics, it’s even okay to take Tuesday afternoons off to drink a few beers and read a book, especially if you work all weekend (like I do). Take care of yourself. Burnout is big in farming. you already know that the work is physically taxing, with unique emotional demands. Find your pace. Visualize a fifty-year career, and set annual, reasonable goals that will get you there. Check in with yourself frequently. And by all means, if you raise flowers for a living, be sure to “stop and smell the petunias” from time to time. or the daffodils. Whatever…I raise pigs, cut me some slack.
Rule #7: Don’t Worry About What Other People Think There’s an old saying that goes, “The easiest way over the wall is through the door.” In this case, perhaps it’s an open gate. There’s CONTINUED ON PAGE 19
IN PRACTICE 3
How Holistic Management Helped Me to Buy the Farm by ALLYSON ANGELINI
etirement isn’t something on the minds of many 23-year-olds these days, but during the summer of 2011 it’s all I could think about. I lived in a great house. I had a decent paying job on a farm doing exactly what I wanted to do. I had an awesome flock of chickens and a pair of pigs that relied on my care. I had all of the pieces of the puzzle I thought I needed but I just didn’t feel complete. I was yearning for something more. In September 2011 I mustered up just enough courage to “retire” from my full-time farm management position and moved back to southeastern Connecticut with my family to pursue my dream of having my own farm. I subsequently enrolled in HMI’s Whole Farm Planning for Beginning Women Farmer’s Program offered through their collaborator, Connecticut northeast organic Farming Association. I was determined to develop my own farm business and desperate for any resources that could aid me in that process. I was hooked on Holistic Management after the first class, where we began to sketch out our holistic goal and develop an understanding of our resource base. I felt as though I could finally articulate what I had been feeling all along. yes, I want to develop a successful, profitable farm business, but it was just as important that I created an enjoyable lifestyle for myself, built around good food and time with family. If this farm was going to be my “dream come true” than I wanted to be sure I took the entire picture into consideration. While I was working on my first draft of my holistic goal, I was spending most of my time visiting and meeting with area farmers, trying to learn more about the local agricultural community. Initially, I followed nearly everyone’s advice to search for land to lease. It makes great business sense and I know so many farmers who are in wonderful lease arrangements. But, once again, I was looking for something more. It was important to me that I live on the farm property and be able to keep animals, something that was a problem with many of the landowners that I spoke with. I started to explore the possibility of purchasing farmland through traditional banks, and eventually through the Farm Service Agency’s Beginning Farmer’s loan program. I had studied Agriculture Education at UMass
4 IN PRACTICE
this one was by far the worst. I had two weeks to find a comparable property or I would lose funding. It felt somewhat hopeless, but I was determined to at least give it a shot. I spent hours once again reviewing properties online and days visiting dozens more. Then a friend of my real estate agent recommended a property that was no longer on the market, but still for sale. Initially, I wasn’t sure the property was what I was looking for. Things were run down and in need of a significant amount of work. But it had all of the pieces that I was looking for: a small house, a barn, a flat field with good soils for growing vegetables and a wooded area for raising pigs. It was 6.25 acres, within my price range, and 10 minutes from my family. I could imagine myself starting a life there, so once again I took a leap and put in an offer. Spring had arrived and our classes moved outside to various farms where we learned about land management, soil fertility, and grazing planning. I still didn’t own a farm, but my closing date was quickly approaching and plans were well underway for the farm to begin. I purchased Full Heart Farm on April 30, 2012 and graduated from the Whole Farm Planning class two weeks later. I couldn’t have been happier. The process of purchasing a farm was a rollercoaster of ups and downs and much more stressful than I could have anticipated. The fellow women farmers in my class were the ultimate support system, and I felt so relieved to finally have a farm, and a home, of my own. now my holistic goal is hanging in the bathroom, where I can read through it each day when I brush my teeth. I’ve been taking time to have dinner with my family, enjoy the delicious food that I grow, and even sleep! It sounds like life basics, but it’s so easy for me to fall into the habit of working endlessly that
Amherst, interned and apprenticed at a few different farms, and worked as a farm manager. I had attended dozens of workshops and conferences and read enough books on farming to fill a small library. My education and experience were enough to make me eligible for the loan program, so I began to seriously look at buying a farm. The real estate market in Connecticut during the winter of 2011-12 was at an all-time low and there were a lot of properties on the market in my price range, but there was not a lot of farmland on the market, especially that had a house. I had my heart set on living in southeastern Connecticut near my family, even if that meant settling on a smaller piece of land. I looked at dozens of different properties, grateful that the mild winter made farm shopping in december a possibility. In our Whole Farm Planning class that winter we were practicing time management and developing a profitable business. Even though I didn’t have a farm yet, I drafted a general plan that I could adapt to fit my future farm. I was interested in raising poultry (meat chickens and layers), pigs, and vegetables. I knew I wanted to start out with a diverse business so that I could better learn what I was good at, what would grow well, and what would be the most profitable. I created enterprise budgets based on statistics I found on the internet and in books. I drafted a marketing plan after class one day that included all of the potential markets within a 30-mile radius of my parent’s house. I worked to improve my communication with my partner and family using the tools that I learned in class. Slowly it felt like the farm was coming together. When I finally found an ideal piece of land and successfully negotiated a contract in January 2012, putting together my threeinch thick application for the Farm Service Agency was made much easier by the work that I had done in class. I felt confident with my business plan and the agency bought into it. I was approved and received funding in record time. And then the contract with the farm property fell through. I was devastated. There had been many setbacks along the way, but The layer enterprise is one of many on Full Heart Farm
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The pigs help to clear brush and till the earth.
my holistic goal is a crucial part of keeping my life in balance. It turns out one of the most rewarding aspects of the farm has been in its revitalization. The pigs have cleared brush and tilled the soil along many of the fences and around the barn. Where there was once a mess of trash and invasive plants are now perennial flower gardens. The pasture, which has a lot of bare soil and poor forage, is striped with dark green where the movable tractors of broiler chickens passed through a few weeks ago and the fertility is
Calves versus Yearlings—
Gross Profit Analysis alves versus yearlings—which is most profitable? In our unique circumstance a cow / long yearling operation shows more profit than a cow/ calf operation. That's why we have a cow/ yearling operation. This makes it best for us; it doesn't make it best for anyone else. Everyone has a unique operation. What do your numbers tell you? Have you figured it out? do you review this from time to time? With today's high grain prices would it be wise to revisit this topic? let me share some general thoughts. 1. The cow /calf phase is the most expensive way to produce a pound of beef. This cost can be varied by breed, weaning weight, calving date etc., but it will still be the most expensive way to produce beef. 2. Back grounding calves produces beef at a moderate cost. This will be challenged this year with high grain prices. 3. Running yearlings on grass is the cheapest way to produce beef. do you agree or disagree with these general statements?
Profitable Use of Your Grass If you want to produce profit does it make sense to use a portion of your grass in the long yearling stage (least expensive) as opposed to using all your grass in the cow /calf stage (most expensive)? With today's high grain prices do yearlings and a short feeding period make more sense than calves and a long feeding period?
already improving. Part of the land was tilled for a vegetable garden and the farm is producing more food than I can imagine. one statement in my holistic goal – to create a landscape that is both beautiful and bountiful – is one of the most tangible and satisfying to achieve. I sit out in my hammock overlooking the farm and all of the pieces that have come together in the past 8 months to make this all happen and it just doesn’t seem possible. But then I look into the kitchen and see that we already have a freezer full of meat, a fridge full of eggs, and a sink full of fresh produce and I’m reminded that, yes, anything is possible. I bought a farm and I’m living my dream. Allyson Angelini can be reached at email@example.com
Gross Profit Review by DON CAMPBELL
Here’s how to find your own answer: 1. determine your carrying capacity with a cow / calf operation. How many cows can you comfortably run? Estimate the average weight of your cow /calf pair. The pair will consume about 3% of body weight (this is using 85% dry matter which is roughly equivalent to hay). determine how long you plan to graze. Multiplying the number of cows X the feed consumed X the days of grazing gives you the pounds of forage harvested. 2. determine your carrying capacity with a cow / yearling operation. you already have the total amount of grass you wish to harvest. Estimate how much the yearlings will consume (average weight X 3% X number of days of grazing). Subtracting this number from your total grass production will give you the amount of grass left for the cows. Follow step 1 to determine how many cows you can run. 3. do a gross profit on your cow / calf operation. 4. do a gross profit on back grounding your calves. 5. do a gross profit on grassing your long yearlings. 6. What do the numbers show? Which combination of enterprises will generate the most profit for you? gross profit helps us pick enterprises that will generate the most to covering the overhead costs. The overheads will remain constant, therefore the enterprises with the highest gross profit will most likely cover the overheads and allow us to be profitable.
Gross profit is based on income per unit minus the direct costs. Be sure and use numbers that are as accurate as possible. Canfax has excellent price information and is the best source of market information I am aware of. In making decisions like this it is likely best to use a 5-year price average (or something that you are comfortable with). Using this price, your weaning weight, and your weaning percentage, you now have income per cow. When comparing calves and yearlings it is important that you price the calf in the fall of the year it was born (oct to nov or dec). This same calf will then be priced as a yearling (spring of the next year) and a long yearling in the fall of the same year. direct costs are those that are directly related to the level of production. A simple way to determine this is to ask which costs increase when I add one cow to my herd. These costs are direct. All other costs are overhead and will be dealt with in our financial plan. Remember thinking and planning make more money than working. I hope this article has been challenging and useful. My idea is not to have you be a cow/yearling producer, but to do what is best in your unique operation. The above exercise and your numbers can give you valuable information. If you are custom grazing or buying yearlings you can use the same exercises to determine what might be best for you. Don Campbell is a rancher near Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan and a Holistic Management Certified Educator. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Number 151
IN PRACTICE 5
HMI 2012 Annual Report Letter from the CEO Dear Friends, was an exciting year for HMI -- full of accomplishments and some challenges. We can report good news on several fronts. We have completed our transition from a consultancy-driven Peter Holter, CEO organization to a true mission-driven organization -- one that serves our community by delivering exceptional training and educational materials to farmers, ranchers, and land stewards interested in Holistic Management® and sustainable agriculture. In the development arena, we are pleased to report that overall contributions increased 50% over 2011 results. Many contributions were from first-time donors. our focus on grants is bearing fruit as well. grants from small foundations more than doubled. Based on the results of our 2009 USdA nIFA BFRd grant, HMI was Sallie Calhoun, also honored to receive another 3 year grant in the amount of Board Chair $537,101 to train 360 women farmers and ranchers in Texas and the northeast. on the program side, HMI programs delivered positive impact to the communities we served. We wrapped up our 2009-2012 Beginning Farmers & Ranchers: Women in the northeast program with a well-attended conference in Massachusetts. Then we kicked off our 2012-2014 Beginning Farmers & Ranchers program. HMI also held a number of workshops in Texas and oklahoma and served a diverse population — from college students in the Southwest to experienced farmers in Virginia. our measurement and outreach efforts are also bearing fruit.
• At the end of 2012 we had 2,300 Facebook likes, 6,000 Twitter followers and a database of over 8,500 individuals passionate about sustainable agriculture • We are measuring and publishing impact for every program we complete • Along with our Holistic Management Certified Educators, HMI trained a record number of people in 2012 The challenges we faced included an unexpected drop in revenues from mineral royalties resulting in approximately $500,000 less income, due to an extremely soft natural gas market. As a result, 2012 shows a cumulative loss of $258,000, with $115,000 of that a non-cash loss due to depletion and depreciation expense. Thanks to Holistic Management (plan, implement, monitor, control), we were able to cut operational costs by eliminating five administrative and consulting positions for a cash savings of $165,000. despite the challenges, we are on an upward track with many new programs and, of course, we could not have done any of this without our community. We look forward to serving all of you in 2013.
Countries Served Albania Argentina Armenia Australia Austria Belgium Benin Bhutan Bolivia Botswana Brazil Bulgaria Burkino Faso Canada Chile China Colombia Costa Rica Croatia Cyprus denmark Finland France germany greece Honduras Hungary India Ireland Israel Italy Jordan
Kenya Kyrgyzstan lithuania Macedonia Malaysia Mexico Mongolia Morocco namibia netherlands new Zealand niger nigeria norway oman Pakistan Panama Philippines Poland Portugal Puerto Rico Romania Saint lucia South Africa Spain Sweden Thailand Turkey Uganda United Kingdom USA Zimbabwe
2012 Worldwide Impact
7,302 People Trained
18,909,311 Acres Influenced
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Funders t is always with great pleasure that we acknowledge the many individuals and organizations whose support is the life-blood of our mission and our community.
your thoughts and ideas matter immensely to us. Please contact us at email@example.com with your comments, questions & suggestions.
Stewards ($50,000+) Sallie Calhoun - The Christiano Family Fund, an advised fund of The Community Foundation for San Benito County The dixon Water Foundation USdA national Institute of Food and Agriculture
Piedmont Environmental Council James & Colleen Reeves Katherine Steele Rodriguez Michael Sands & Betsy dietel Sweetwater Wind 4 llC daren Wilder
Ron Chapman oklahoma grazing lands Conservation Association Patricia Muir Sethness
Mary n. Adams Thomas Brown Harry duncan Campbell, Jr. Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation district Joseph & Blair Fitzsimons lowell & Mary Forman Zizi Fritz linda Meuth Matt Parrack & Jaci Bertrand Peter Schulze Jim & Sara Shelton Kelly Sidoryk Kathryn Smyth Swift Action Fund, a donoradvised Fund held at the San luis obispo Community Foundation Bradley Taylor Pono & Angela Von Holt Roby Wallace Alison Worcester
Andrew Barnet Ben & denise Bartlett Melissa A. Cole Mary Cox Katherine dickson John Flocchini don & Randee Halladay gail Hammack & doug Mcdaniel Clint & Betty Josey Joy law Amy and Joseph Morel Erin Pearson
deepti Agrawal Ann Beeghly Eric Brown Martha Holdridge dale lasater nancy Ranney levi daniel lee nuckols oklahoma Farmers Union/American Farmers & Ranchers Vanessa Semifero Rodriguez Richard Teague greg Vinson
Guardians ($10,000+) Christopher and laura gill The national Center for Appropriate Technology Jim & Carol Parker Quail Forever
Protectors ($5,000+) Clif Bar Foundation genevieve duncan Farm Aid Farm Credit Bank of Texas CoyoTe Phoenix
Ann Adams david Albee Robin Andrews Frank Aragona Abbie Ashley Tom Benzen Ben Berlinger Christof den Biggelaar Chandra Blackmer Jane Blume Bruce Boardman Susan Brook Thomas K Cadwallader Watt Casey Stephanie Cloutier Peggy Cole Candi Cowden Shirley Coy Kirk Cunningham donald david linda davis Walt & dianne davis dennis & Ruth demmel douglas dockter leslie & Steve dorrance James F. dudley Cameron duncan Judi Earl Byron & Wayne Eatinger Mike Eisenstat John Fichtner Heather Flashinski Anita Ramos & Reid Folsom Tom & Irene Frantzen Carl Frentress Ken gallard Mary girsch-Bock Pamela glenn John Haws Margaret Hillenbrand Peter Holter Rudy Hostetler Stan Howard Jeff & denise Hunewill gerda Hyde Candace Jagel Walter Jaworski William Jenkins Justin & lisa Jessop larry Johnson Mayette Johnston Raymond Jurisic Kapapala Ranch Jason Klinge Ravichandra Kuriseti delana lands Sandy langelier lawrence levine Breton line
norman & gail lowe Thomas & Sheila lutgen laura lutz Kanna Madero Priscilla Marden lowry McAllen James McCollum Joseph McElligott Jim & Pam Mcgregor Billy Miller Kirk Mills Jolie Milstein Jennifer Munster Mary nakahara Carrie nelson Kelli & Bill Parker Robert Parker Susan Patterson Michael Podolny Howard J. Porter Jr. Brendan & Sarah Prendergast louis & Susan Preston Roy Purcell Rezwan Razani Kent Reid Kim Ryals Charles & Jennifer Sands Barbara Scaife Charles & Peggy Schmidt Aleatha Scholer Peggy Sechrist deb Shortess Alan g Shudde Scott Sims & Family dave & Tina Southward Sebastian Stadler Ron Stoneberg gerry & Pat Stratelak Susan Stropes Erika Tebbens dan Towery John & Pamela Trent david Troyer Wala Wadud david Waters Sally Wellborn & William gallagher John Wernette The Weston A. Price Foundation daniel F. White Tom White george Whitten Brad Wind Thompson Winiata george & Elaine Work
In Kind Austin Water - Center for Environmental Research CONTINUED ON PAGE 8
IN PRACTICE 7
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Summarized Summarized Statement Statement of Activities J. david Bamberger, Selah Bamberger Ranch Sallie Calhoun, Paicines Ranch Community Involved in Sustainable Agriculture (CISA) Foodshed Magazine (previously Flavor Magazine) Christopher and laura gill Wally & Amy Hudson, Moving Meadows Farm Maine Womenâ€™s Agricultural network Cliff Miller, Mount Vernon grass-fed Scott and Brenda Mitchell, Montesino Ranch Barbara Pilkey Red Corral Ranch, James & Colleen Reeves Betsy Ross Farm, Betsy Ross Michael Sands & Betsy dietel Small and Beginning Farmers of new Hampshire Sustainable Food Center University of Massachusetts The College of natural Sciences & University of Massachusetts Center for Agriculture
A special thanks to the following people who have graciously given their time to HMI in 2012: Forrest Armke & Sons lisa Clouston & greg Wood Mary Cox neil dennis Heather driscoll Christopher gill Eric griego gerald landgraf Tom levine Peggy Maddox dick & Jeannie Mcnear Cliff Miller Tricia Park Mike & Molly Peterson Michael Sands & Betsy dietel Chris Schueler liz Treher Seth Wilner 8 IN PRACTICE
Revenues Professional services (GXFDWLRQDOSURJUDPV (GXFDWLRQDOSURJUDPV Grants Publications Gas royalties &RQWULEXWLRQV &RQWULEXWLRQV Investment Income Partnership & trust income Miscellaneous income *DLQRQWKHVDOHRIÂż[HGDVVHWV *DLQRQWKHVDOHRIÂż[HGDVVHWV Unrealized gain on investments Total Total revenues
21,395 54,373 328,191 49,405 523,442 204,216 53,728 47,209 661 34,265 1,316,885
85,531 64,896 213,298 69,985 1,016,790 129,302 903 66,261 13,218 209,365 13,431 1,882,980
Expenses Professional services (GXFDWLRQDOSURJUDPV (GXFDWLRQDOSURJUDPV Beginning farmers programs Publications 2XWUHDFK 2XWUHDFK Gas royalties Fundraising Administration Total Total expenses
9,874 363,115 363,115 257,4111 257,41 53,775 92,041 242,427 117,422 117,422 439,328 1,575,393
56,951 538,158 214,391 75,700 197,356 164,352 104,601 484,338 1,835,847
Change in Net Assets
207,777 1,860,034 124,732 16,741 2,000 9,413 180,653 2,000 3,000 530,81 530,8111 1,415,677
2,270,580 173,614 19,471 7,567 160,231 6,446 510,972 1,516,789
17,323 24,284 15,743 57,350
71,556 28,060 12,058 1111,674 11,674
Net Assets Unrestricted Temporarily Temporarily restricted TTotal otal
2,885,453 1,410,035 4,295,488
2,858,609 1,695,387 4,553,996
Total Total Liabilities and Net Assets
Summarized Summarized Statement Statement of Financial Position Position Assets &DVKDQGFDVKHTXLYDOHQWV &DVKDQGFDVKHTXLYDOHQWV Investments Accounts receivable Prepaid expenses Unconditional promises to give Inventory 3URSHUW\DQGHTXLSPHQWQHW 3URSHUW\DQGHTXLSPHQWQHW Unconditional promises to give - long term 2WKHU 2WKHU Stock in closely held companies Mineral interest, net Total Total Assets Liabilities Accounts payable Accrued liabilities Deferred revenue Total Total
September / October 2013
Holistic Planned Cropping—
The Quest for a Continuous Live Root in Cropping Systems By ANN ADAMS
s the interest in cropping systems that build soil health continues to grow, those working with farmers who want to transition to such practices are finding new ways to help make those transitions more successful. Joshua dukart, a HMI Certified Educator who works for the Burleigh County Soil Conservation district and the north dakota grazing lands Coalition, has been learning a lot from his colleagues and the farmers and ranchers involved in this soil health movement. Recently, he shared his thoughts about Holistic Planned Cropping and how to help crop farmers take their farming to the next level for improved profitability, land health, and quality of life.
Regenerative Cropping “As we know it’s really about feeding the soil organisms,” says Joshua. “There are different techniques to build soil health and each operation and landscape is different. But, there are cover crops that can fit into a wide array of areas. Each place has a different set of challenges and opportunities that you need to work with. In Burleigh County we have 16 inches of rain on average, with May and June being the heavy precipitation months. We have a very short growing season. We’ve found some techniques that work here and are working to adapt other techniques that have worked in other places. There’s still a lot of learning to do, but we also now have experienced farmers who can improve poor soils in as little as 2-3 years when it may take someone 10-20 years to do that with a trial and error approach using conventional tools.” Joshua believes that conservation is not enough. Regenerative management is needed to create a sustainable future. Holistic planned cropping is a process that helps you determine which of the many tools that are available to you are right given the various parameters you are dealing with. People ask him, can cropping and Holistic Management coincide? In his opinion how people integrate the different tools, including Holistic Management, is on a spectrum. Some people see annual cropping as bad and choose not to engage in the process because they believe it is ecologically not viable. However, just as in the case with grazing, Joshua believes it is how you do the cropping as to whether or not it is ecologically viable. If we look at the low end of the spectrum of holistic planned cropping it starts with the conventional approach of tillage with low crop diversity. As you proceed across the spectrum of increase soil health, additional tools like no-till, cocktail seeding, and planned grazing allow for higher levels of
management and potential benefits. Each tool adds additional complexity to planning and management, but the rewards are improved soil health, increased production, less inputs, and greater profitability. Having the Holistic Management decision-making framework, Holistic Financial Planning, and Holistic grazing Planning can help with making that transition. “I like to have people develop a Biological Plan that includes both their holistic grazing plan and holistic crop plan,” says Joshua.
The focal point in this process is developing cropping systems and rotations that mimic native grasslands’ ecological process. you then are using that criteria to determine what the weakest ecosystem process is and develop cropping and grazing practices to strengthen it. The improvement of soil health (the investment) is balanced with the need for income generation (crops and livestock). “If we are going to graze with purpose and intention and strategy, we can do the same with cropping,” says Joshua. “But we have to get beyond the conventional cropping methods out there. So while holistic planned grazing is about getting the animals to the right place, at the right time for the right reasons, holistic planned cropping, is getting the animals and the seeds to the right place, at the right time, for the right reasons. There is an additional step because of that annual crop in the system. That’s not to say that the perennial plant shouldn’t be part of a cropping rotation (like pasture cropping).” To build the soil, the focus is on soil cover (armor), diversity of plants, always having a continual live plant root, creating appropriate disturbance, and allowing for adequate recovery time for plants and soil life.
5 Steps to Building Soil 1. Armor 2. diversity 3. Continual live Plant Root
4. Appropriate disturbance 5. Adequate Recovery Time
CONTINUED ON PAGE 10
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Holistic Planned Cropping
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When seeding a cocktail mix the key is to have cool- and warm-season grasses and broadleaf plants to feed a variety of soil organisms.
Soil with a Live Root Pasture cropping has gained a lot of attention as a way to crop farm with a continual live root (perennial plants). It is the process of planting an annual cash crop into a pasture that has been recently grazed. For example, if you have a cool-season pasture, you would graze the forage then drill a warm-season annual cash crop (such as millet) so that it would be able to come up while the cool-season plants are dormant. you would then harvest the oats and then allow animals in to graze the residue before starting the cycle again. But the short growing season and the relatively quick switch from cool- to warm-season in Burleigh County makes this technique challenging and is still in the investigation stage. Joshua notes that cover crops can help make the transition to higher levels of soil health more successful. “With Holistic planned cropping, cover crops become a flexible and dynamic tool,” says Joshua. “We start the planning process looking for a shorter season annual crop in the rotation, a crop like peas and small grains, so we still have some growing season left. The cover crop is planted right after the annual crop is harvested. This can work well, but does depend some on how degraded the soil is and how the ecosystem processes are functioning. “Some people prefer to use a full-season cover crop as a regular part of their crop rotation. This approach, especially in the first years, is more likely to be successful; utilizing more reliable spring moisture and creating larger amounts of available forage for livestock. With full-season cover crops you get greater expression of the plants above the ground and rooting expression below the ground. We encourage people to use a 5-8+ annual species mix. Some farmers will then graze the crop while others will hay it or simply roll the material onto the soil surface. It’s always a balance between income and investment. you can take income off the cropland by grazing and prepare the soil for next annual crop. you do this with less machinery passes, and inputs that are all getting more expensive.” Joshua notes that producers and agricultural researchers are beginning to experiment with a variety of techniques to address the soil resource issues in the region including identifying cover crop and annual crop species that will work for their short growing season and heavy winters. Perennials are being considered as a tool for the future in their cropping management. Currently they are looking at ways of utilizing the concept of pasture cropping, but adapting the principles to the northern great Plains. They have found they can extend that growing season with increased biological health. They are experimenting on small scale so risk is small. “If you are interested in using these cocktail mixes, start on small scale,” says Joshua. “go with a full-season route for cover cropping as a start point. If you have a longer growing season then you can consider double cropping, therefore growing an annual crop and a full-season cover crop.”
The lowest organic matter that they have successfully begun building soil health with cover crops has been in the 0.8 to 1.2% organic matter range. With these techniques they have been able to get the organic matter up to 2.5-3% on lighter sandy type soils. Experiments have shown that the diversity of crops creates different results. Research also shows that there is a 7:1 improvement and efficiency of use of moisture through cocktail seeding. one farmer, Ken Miller from Fort Rice, north dakota tried a cover crop cocktail following a biannual crop of winter triticale harvested with grazing. The cover crop cocktail was seeded at the beginning of August with temperatures over 100 degrees. He planted 7 different species. Even though it was very dry conditions in which he received only a 2 inches of rain after seeding, he grew approximately 4,000 pounds of forage/acre. Joshua has found that after you build soil health there is lots of opportunity for growing forage—particularly if you have good soil cover. “I can’t emphasis enough what a significant role soil cover plays,” says Joshua. “After that there is the need for diversity. We like to see people planting all 4 different crop types (cool season grasses and broadleaves and warm-season grasses and broadleaves). Each plant can address diet deficiencies for soil organisms so these cover crops are like biological primers for the soil.” The importance of covered soil and diversity of species was demonstrated in 2006 on the Burleigh County Soil district demonstration plot. After a very dry summer when only 1.5 “ of rain fell, the area where there was a single species of oilseed radish planted had a soil temperature of 107 degrees. In contrast the area where there was a cover crop of 7 different species (including oilseed radish) the soil temperature was 87 degrees due to much greater growth of plants and more soil cover. This 20 degree difference then creates a better home for soil organisms. “There are all these different species under soil,” says Joshua. “We can see earthworms and dung beetles. But we can’t see the other creatures like bacteria, fungi, nematodes, and protazoa, so we just don’t give them attention even though the role they play is really important.”
The Brown Ranch will graze as many as 300 yearling heifers on a 1/3rd of an acre as a tool to improve soil health. 10
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For graziers planning a full forage chain is critical for a profitable business. They need to make sure that every time period of the year is covered with some crop/forage that can be grazed. “While many people understand this for feeding animals above the ground, we need a total mix ration for our soil microbes for the entire year too,” says Joshua. “We are looking to create an environment with a continuous life root in the soil that helps take solar energy into the soil to grow roots to feed microbes and then benefit from their free labor. The Forage Chain Worksheet helps the producer plan for all feeders above and below ground.
Forage Chain for Livestock & Wildlife
“Many annual crops only use part of the growing season, leaving the land without a live food source for part of the growing season. on top of that, the soil organisms were only fed one thing on the menu for a short time. The micro-organisms need a home and food. our production planning needs to take that into account. We need to feed the soil biology and the livestock. livestock is the short economic return and the soil biology is the long term investment.” According to Joshua once you get the ground covered and have diversity, then it comes time to determine what the appropriate type and timing is for soil disturbance. your two key options are animals (grazing and animal impact) or technology (cutting, crimping, etc.). Biological planning should then allow for maximum flexibility for type and timing. Using the holistic planned grazing chart to integrate both crop and livestock usage of areas can help with that integration. one example of this type of holistic crop planning is the Brown Ranch located near Bismarck, north dakota. “These folks are ranchers first,” says Joshua. “They are using some of these techniques to biologically prime the land. They planted cover crop mixes that were quick growing and aggressive rooting to help them deal with soil health issues. They don’t take this directly back to grass; they use diversity of annual crops in mixes to reestablish the water and mineral cycles for a couple of years before reseeding grass. “We also know that the harvesting method does matter. At the Brown Ranch they tried two methods of harvesting a warm-season cover crop planted in 2007. In 2007 they grazed half of the field. The other half of the field they mechanically chopped. In 2008 they found that the side that had been grazed needed one less application of herbicide when they planted the following year. And, the amount of production on the grazed side was 91 bushels/acre versus 68 bushels to the acre where the crop had been chopped. overall plant resiliency and quality was much higher on the grazed side. For this reason cover crops and mob grazing is part of the normal rotation on the Brown Ranch.” harvesting Method Comparison grazing 2007
91 bu/acre corn (’08)
68 bu/acre corn (’08)
1 herbicide application
2 herbicide applications
Value of additional nutrients of manure
Value of nutrients hauled away?
After determining the appropriate disturbance mechanism, the final step is to determine appropriate recovery. “When we think about recovery we usually look at plants as the main indicator,” say Joshua. “But we need to not just consider the plant but also the soil and micro-organisms. We need to consider the most severely impacted biological item or issue
whether that is an insect, animal performance, compaction, etc. “The key is to always monitor. Timing of grazing on cropland is just as critical as on perennial grassland. If we are using a higher stock densities and larger numbers of animals there is less room for error, but much greater potential benefits. Compaction can be a concern, but not near as much if animals are moved regularly. one of the best and easiest ways to monitor is to go dig around in the soil with a shovel. We go out to the field with a shovel after a rainfall event, a grazing event, a mechanical harvesting event, etc. to see what impact it had on the soil. We’ve also seen that compaction become less and less of an issue with high levels of soil health supported by soil cover, diversity, and a continuous live root helping support the above ground weight. “you can also use soil testing of the biology (bacteria, fungal, protozoa) to look at the trends. We test before, during and after different production techniques to see how the populations were effected and if they have returned in greater numbers. We’ve used Ward labs out of Kearney, nebraska. We’ve also used Rick Haney at the Agricultural Research Station in Temple, Texas, to look at soil health indicators. With this kind of monitoring we are able to make better decisions. Another monitoring technique I use for testing for compaction is to take a small tree flag as I step across a field. I can poke it in as I walk and feel the resistance. of course it’s always good to do photo points as well. Pick the monitoring practices that will give you the best information about the mostly severely impacted biological issue. “Another example of a ranch using holistic crop planning is the Black leg Ranch near McKenzie, north dakota. The doan Family has a number of different enterprises but began as a cow/calf operation. Jerry and Renae doan encouraged the new generation to bring new enterprises back to the ranch when/if they decided to return. They have been developing their wildlife habitat and guiding enterprise and then adding agrotourism into the mix. Cropping is not their main focus but they are using cover crops to enhance their ranch. They are also constantly telling their story and educating others about how they are bridging the gap between their grazing and cropping. Their cropland serves as the resource base to grow cover crops as wildlife habitat and to supply a winter feeding/grazing option for their cow herd. Stacking enterprises has created efficiency and opportunity on their ranch.”
Creative Solutions There are some key questions to ask when designing a cocktail mix as well as determining other management techniques to incorporate into your holistic crop plan such as types of disturbance and recovery periods for plants and soil organisms. Just as in holistic grazing planning, you want to keep your future landscape description in mind and inventory current production capabilities as well as determine what your desired production goals are for the year and for the next 3-5 years. By knowing what your short, medium, and long-range objectives are for your landscape and your business, you are better able to select management techniques that can balance the needs of all these objectives. holistic Crop Plan • what is the current crop rotation? • what is the current management methods? • what crop is planned for next year? • what outcomes/needs do you have for soil and livestock? • what resources are available? • what soil concerns/obstacles are you facing? • what is the weak link in each of the Ecosystem Processes? CONTINUED ON PAGE 12
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Holistic Planned Cropping
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increasing the Browns’ financial bottom line. Based on soil and tissue tests it is clear that the soil is producing its own nutrition.
one tool that Joshua finds helpful in helping determine which crops to plant is the Addressing Resource Concerns worksheet. By determining what the key resource concerns are, then he can begin suggesting crops that will address those concerns. For example, if someone is having issues with needing some nitrogen in the mix then legumes are an obvious choice. But, there may also be issues with compaction in which they need some root depth, or they may want to provide more habitat for pollinators or build more carbon in the soil. By listing the various species and what they can contribute to the resource concerns farmers can develop a more effective cocktail mix for different fields that have different issues.
Soil food web tests show that the bacteria:fungi ratio and soil organic matter differs dramatically on areas where there has been mob grazing added to the mix versus when there has been no mob grazing. In this way soil health and cover cropping makes creating profit easier. “When you get excited about what soil can produce it encourages even better management and creativity,” says Joshua. “your biological plan (which includes both holistic crop planning and holistic grazing planning) is clearly tied to your financial plan which is tied to your holistic goal. Trying to integrate cropping and grazing doesn’t mean that producers need to do it all. Joshua talks about the benefit of a cash grain producer collaborating with a rancher to utilize cover crops and grazing to create a win-win situation. These are the kinds of creative solutions that will help take this type of agriculture to the next level. The livestock producer also needs to be flexible in their production schedule to accommodate the grain producer. For example, if the cow herd calves in May and June then the cows can handle grazing residue in January and February when the grain farmer may need that grazing done. At the Blackleg Ranch they are able to graze a cover crop into March during mild winters and until January in more severe winters—by doing so they can save up to $50,000 a year in feed costs. For many ranching operations, the original homestead was built close to water. They were often located in a valley or near a spring. A lot of cows would get wintered along a creek which may not have been the best practice for those riparian areas or water quality. With new technology there is the ability to manage these animals through planned moves on croplands and rangelands, providing benefit to the land and taking away detrimental effects to water resources. For this reason water quality is one of the things that should also be monitored. The result of integrating planned grazing, as a form of disturbance that drastically increases soil health, has been documented on the Brown Ranch in Burleigh County. They are planting a variety of poly-seeded biological primer cover crops and have grazed up to 300 yearling heifers on the mix, giving them about 1/3 of an acre as a paddock and moving the herd several times a day. Soil food web tests show that the bacteria:fungi ratio and soil organic matter differs dramatically on areas where there has been mob grazing added to the mix versus when there has been no mob grazing. likewise, resilience in the soil has been demonstrated with the ability of the soil to absorb large amounts of rain due to good crumb structure and large quantities of glomalin, the soil glue that supports that crumb structure. The healthy soil also results in excellent crop yields and reduced need for herbicides and fertilizer, thus 12
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September / October 2013
Soil food web soil tests show the difference in soil health when comparing the soil life after corn (monoculture) is planted after a cover crop as opposed to a second polycrop planted after a cover crop. When asked what are some of the concerns producers have about shifting to this type of cropping, Joshua notes that people are concerned about how they can effectively polyseed a field. “Many people are experimenting with the most effective way to drill a poly crop,” says Joshua. “Some producers have had trouble with small seeds sifting to the bottom as the seeder moves across the field if they put everything into the same box and if they are seeding a lot of acres at a time. The easiest solution is to seed in smaller batches of approximately 50 acres or less in order to get good distribution of diversity across the field. If you have the option of multiple boxes, then you can separate out the different seed sizes. Producers have found that a depth of ¾-1 inch works for most species even though that is somewhat shallow for some species and fairly deep for others.
rotations either with other farms or on your own farm where you alternate “People are also concerned that while no-till or polyseeded cover between livestock production and cash crop production. crops or pasture cropping works in some areas of the world, it won’t work “Tillage is a challenging issue in cropping. We know it wipes out the in their area. We have seen these different techniques work in climates soil biology’s home, burns up organic matter, tears apart mycorrihizal with very low rainfall (less than 8 inches) to very high rainfall (more than communities, collapses soil structure, and stagnates true infiltration. 50 inches). It needs to be adapted for each environment. The thing to However, once a system reaches a higher successional stage, all soil remember is that it may seem like you are going backwards first, but items tend to balance and come into line. Many organic producers would cover crops can ultimately help us get through those transition periods prefer not to till, but it is the best method for quicker. Available moisture is just one part. weed control for them at this time. They also “no-till is just one tool with livestock as a may put in a green manure crop and plow that disturbance mechanism. Most areas where aNiMalS PEOPlE in before they go in with a grain crop. Some we talk about rotation of corn then soybean are getting sequences where they don’t use can be a mining of soil. This is not really a tillage as there is so much concern about soil rotation at all and lacks diversity. you need structure and how it affects the water cycle. more complexity to build soil health and we We need to continue to work at eliminating haven’t even scratched the surface of both tillage and bio-cide use as much as practices that can help. you need a mindset of possible. Just like we have accepted a MiCROBES PlaNTS what you want to create. Many producers are degraded soil resource, we tend to just accept seeing the writing on the wall with the high some tools, even if we know they are cost of inputs. Those with deeper soils can get damaging in some ways. away with mining their soils longer, but it’s a “Root crops are also a big challenge SOilS house of cards. Right now with crop insurance because of the level of soil disturbance there is not a lot of incentive to change except for your personal belief. Those that are really For an effective holistic biological plan you need to necessary for harvesting. one producer who grows root crops on a commercial scale still interested in building a regenerative cropping consider the whole cycle of biological activity. digs his potatoes, but that is the only soil system are leading the effort. disturbance. He is looking at using a rotation to help with that “Polygrain cropping is probably the easiest type of cropping in which to disturbance not happening in the same place every year. integrate livestock. The Browns did experiment with a polyseeded “There’s still a lot of unanswered questions out there, but we know a vegetable garden and got good results. However, from a good Agricultural lot more than we did 10 years ago. gabe Brown said that he believes Practices (gAP) standpoint, in which there are large lengths of time that with the knowledge he now has he could turn most farms around required between the time livestock have been in a field and when biologically in 3-5 years. The focus has to be on the whole biological vegetables can be planted, you have additional challenges for vegetable plan that is feeding both the soil and providing income. you can’t crop producers. Certainly the scale of the enterprise will determine which manage for any one thing and maintain balance. Balance is the key with livestock to use. In smaller farms, the livestock of choice might be sheep, holistic crop planning.” goats, or poultry. you also may need to partner with folks who have the animals if you don’t have any. not everyone has to have their own Joshua Dukart is a Holistic Management® Certified Educator and equipment or animals. This type of farming may require more collaboration. rancher near Bismarck, North Dakota. He can be reached at: So if you need to schedule breaks in the cropping so pathogens can be firstname.lastname@example.org. transformed through the decomposition process, you may need to create
The A8 Ranch—
Recovering from a Flood
Tom and Michelle Teichroeb with their children, Madison & Regan
by Heather Smith Thomas
other nature dealt ranchers in southern Manitoba a rough hand during the spring of 2011 when flooding put their pastures and farm land under water. But the flexibility and big-picture viewpoint instilled by Holistic Management practices has contributed to the ongoing recovery and rehabilitation on the ranch of Tom and Michelle Teichroeb.
Looking at the Whole Business “My wife and I have been farming all our lives,” says Tom. “Michelle grew up on a grain farm, and I grew up on a grain/cattle farm in Alberta. In 2002, we moved to langruth, Manitoba and started a 300 cow-calf pair operation with our partners. We were then introduced to Holistic Management a short
time after. don and Bev Campbell of Meadow lake Saskatchewan, Canada, facilitated the Holistic Management course for us here in our home town of langruth, Manitoba,” Tom says. “Along with that, we have attended various Holistic Management conferences and many other schools and seminars to gain more knowledge and insight on how we can improve our management CONTINUED ON PAGE 14
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The A-8 Ranch
continued from page thirteen
skills. If we take the approach that we are lifelong students, we can gain a great deal,” Tom says. one of the key reasons Holistic Management struck a cord with Tom and Michelle and their operation was that it captures their business as a whole. “The primary reason it resonated with me is that first and foremost, it focuses on the human resources side of your business to ensure it is intact. In my opinion, everything else is secondary to your human resources,” explains Tom. “We always look for growth and sustainability in our pastures, and look to create something that will be here beyond our life and our kids’ lives— and continue to make a profit and grow our family. This is the essence of Holistic Management, in its most simplistic form,” explains Tom. The A8 Ranch in September 2006.
Surviving a Flood The flood of 2011 devastated many farms around lake Manitoba and lake Saint Martin. “one of the reasons that we were able to cope and function with a disaster of this magnitude is that we had been practicing Holistic Management for about 8 years. The first reaction for many people with this type of disaster is their inability to react in a measured fashion. We witnessed this first hand by watching people make some untimely business decisions. Holistic Management and the tools it has to offer helped us gain focus and react to a very difficult situation,” Tom says. He talked with many people and saw how they were trying to deal with the disaster. “I served on two committees here in Manitoba during and after the flood. one was a committee created by the Province of Manitoba to make recommendations on flood mitigation measures for lake Manitoba and lake Saint Martin. In that project, the value of Holistic Management was huge to me because the committee was required to engage the public. Holistic Management had given me the confidence to discuss and listen to the needs of the people that we were dealing with on a daily basis. Holistic Management also gave me the confidence to suggest and offer advice with some of the management tools that we were using on our ranch. Some of these people may not have had the privilege of knowing or practicing Holistic Management; I think it would have helped them a great deal,” he says. “It certainly helped us to make sure everyone in our family could cope with the day to day stresses. We relied on each other, our family, as well as friends and neighbors for emotional strength and well-being. We understood very early on that the flood was going to impact us for two, possibly up to four years. A lot of people could not deal with that.”
He tried to use those tools he had learned with Holistic Management when talking with ranchers. Many of them were severely impacted. “I had a neighbor who was 66 years old at the time. He could not react. Every time I’d ask him if he was going to evacuate his cows out, he would indicate that it wasn't necessary. Finally, we had to take charge and convince him it was necessary to evacuate immediately. He was incapable of making that decision. Again, Holistic Management gave us the tools and the confidence to respond to a difficult situation. It was the right choice because his pasture was under water less than a week later; we had to take care of our community,” Tom explains. “The second thing was our financing and resources; we knew at that time that our resources were absolutely devastated and would be for a couple years. There wasn’t much we could do with our resources because at that time they were under two feet of water. We had to talk to our banks and tell them this was going to be a long-term, and we had to find a way to convince our financial institutions that they should extend lines of credit when needed in the short term,” he says. “We had to convince our financial institution that we had a 2-year plan. This included an announcement that the provincial government would provide some compensation. This, of course, was key because in 2011and 2012 we did not/could not generate an income because our biological resources were completely compromised. of course the government wasn't as generous as they had promised and that is why we had to make sure we had a financial plan that would offset other financial requirements. All of this had to be in place shortly after the flood because the financial requirements
Flood waters from Lake Manitoba and Lake Saint Martin submerged much of the A8 Ranch in July 2011
After the flood waters left, the Teichroebs were dealing with many issues including salinized soils.
Land & Livestock
September / October 2013
After a year of bale grazing and working to improve stock density and increased recovery to build soil fertility, the pasture is now beginning to have more species diversity. were enormous after the flood destroyed our property. We also knew this would be the case for the next 2-4 years. Again, we had to focus on our financial plan and make sure the business decisions we made were sound and didn’t negatively impact our business or our family in the long term.” “It was vital to have a mind set and an attitude to ensure that we relied on the knowledge we had gained from Holistic Management and other valuable resources to manage our ranch towards profitability. We were also fortunate in that we were younger than many other people who were severely impacted by the flood of 2011. Some people, like my neighbor and others in the 65-70 age range who were still hanging onto their farms, had other issues. The flood negatively impacted their retirement plan. Their land was devalued, and they had huge expenses after the flood. In my situation, (45 years old) I have more time then perhaps a person who is 65, to see the land rehabilitate and be able to move in a positive direction for the next few years. “I have a family who has accepted a huge challenge caused by the flood of 2011. We do not see ourselves as victims, but rather people caught in an unusual circumstance. We know and believe we can cope with any challenge. We also know that our finances are in order for the foreseeable future. Thanks to Holistic Management, we have tremendous peace of mind. last, but not least, we have a planned grazing system which we know works. We will continue to implement successful management practices that we used for 8 years prior to the 2011 flood. A significant number of producers panicked and sold their herds off, or perhaps they sold off their entire business. After talking to some of those individuals, they admitted having made some untimely business decisions. I do not want to boast and say that I have all the answers. I have tried to educate myself along the way so that I can make some good management choices. Holistic Management has provided me with tools that have proven to be a successful formula on our ranch. I would encourage anyone to take the course.”
A Recovery Plan “Anyone who goes through the Holistic Management course and really pays attention to this aspect (to not rape your resources, but reap them) will manage their resources for optimum benefit. It all goes back to how we manage our resources and manage for profitability. We have always considered it a privilege to manage our resources. In essence, we are managing them for future generations,” he explains. It is human nature to take more than we should. “This has to be one of the major approaches if a person truly understands Holistic Management. We are still rehabilitating our land after
the flood. our cattle were gone from our place for 2 summers and one whole winter. We had to find pasture somewhere else for our entire cow-calf herd and yearlings. We hope that this year (2013), with just a little bit of rented pasture, we can graze our cattle at home this year. That’s our goal, and hopefully we can use the cattle to improve our land once again—and nurture the pasture back to health so that we can see the plant diversity that we saw prior to the flood.” Some of the plants are completely gone after flooding; there are not many species of grass that will survive under two feet of water for very long. “For example, on our highest ridges we now have reeds and foxtail,” says Tom. “Those are all that survived as the water went off and were the only plants that grew. As the water drains from the land to go back into the lake, it leaves fairly quickly, and the salt can’t go with it. you are left with highly saline soil. The plants that thrive in salty conditions are barley foxtail, kochia, and reeds. Those plants are key indicators of saline soils. Cattle will eat them when the plants are very young, but they become rank and mature quickly. There is only a small window of time when they are palatable enough for cattle to graze them.” Tom is interested to see how the land will respond, to see what survived and what will come back. He will use many of the simplest management tools to help improve the organic matter on the land again, such as bale grazing, swath grazing, and other "high impact" rehabilitation measures. “We put cattle into some areas in the hay meadows where the reeds had come in and were 7 to 8 feet tall. The cattle were able to hammer down those reeds,” says Tom. “We had fairly good management practices even before we took the Holistic Management courses—watching how we grazed, monitoring the pastures, and making sure they had appropriate recovery time. When we took Holistic Management we intensified our land management and improved our methods overall,” he explains. “We will bale graze the most severely impacted areas for the next couple years, and use many different kinds of feed—from alfalfa, green feed, grasses as well as a cocktail mixture of seeds—to get seeds out there and spread them all over the land and hopefully introduce plant diversity once again,” he says. Some of those plants will be annuals at first, but the important thing is producing good ground litter, and enough organic matter that will eventually turn into good productive soil that will feed the plants. Along with those efforts, he is working with a local Manitoba government program which will be monitoring salinity and plant diversity. “Areas will be fenced off and monitored to see how the various methods respond,” says Tom. “We will monitor in a site adjacent to it and see how this compares with high animal impact versus no impact at all. We will broadcast seed in certain areas and monitor another area that won’t have any seed put on it, to see how it responds.” Bit by bit the land will be rehabilitated and grow a diversity of forage plants again. “It will take time, but at least the water has finally gone off the land, and this is the first step. nature is resilient, and its amazing how quickly the land will heal if you give it that chance along with good management strategies,” says Tom. “A flood is like a drought, which also has a huge impact on pastures and plant diversity. People tend to overuse their pastures in a drought, and severely impact their plants, reducing plant mass and diversity, and it snowballs. In many ways it’s similar to what happens in flooding, when areas get stressed by being under water too long—and then people come back in those pastures too quickly with cattle. This is not conducive to good recovery. So we must be diligent, and careful how we use our pastures this year and make sure we do it properly. our goal is, and always will be, to manage for profit. If that ever changes to where it is not possible, we will change course and do something different. Flexibility and being open to new possibilities is crucial.” Number 151
Land & Livestock
DEVELOPMENT CORNER Vermont Beginning Women Farmer Report MI’s Beginning Women Farmer (BWF) Program, funded by the USdA/nIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher development Program, drew to a close in August. The Vermont BWF Program in Vermont began in January 2013 and class sessions ran through May of 2013 with mentor visits happening through the summer. 17 women were accepted into the program for the 2012-2013 program year and 16 completed the program successfully. The State Coordinator was Jessie Schmidt of University of Vermont Extension and she supported the main instructor, Calley Hastings—a goat dairy farmer, graduate of the Beginning Women Farmer program, and a Holistic Management Certified Educator. Program mentor was lisa McCrory of Earthwise Farm and Forest. The data below demonstrates that a high level of knowledge and attitude change occurred and that the women completed or modified numerous farm plans (actual behavior change) which resulted in many benefits. Most participants experienced increased confidence in key farm/ranch management practices (92-100% participants). Participant behavior change was mostly in the 80-100% range where there was sufficient time for developing plans or taking action during the program. For the full report go to HMI’s website at: http//holisticmanagement.org/ blog/2013-vermont-beginning-women-farmer-results/.
Vermont 2013 Beginning Women Farmer Program participants
Participant Demographic Information of the participants: • The average years of farming was 3 years • The average acres farmed was 14 acres under production with a total of 206 acres. • The average age of the farmers was 32 years old with a range of 21 – 51 • Total number of customers served is 474 Knowledge Change Summary Per Session % of Participants Knowledge Course Experiencing Change % Session One – goal Setting develop a Whole Farm goal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95% . . . . . .117% define What you Are Managing Towards . . . . . . . . . . .95% . . . . . . .71% Identify needed Farm Systems and Protocols . . . . . . .89% . . . . . . .64% Session Two – Time Management Assess How Time is Spent on Farm . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87% . . . . . . .70%
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Effectively Manage Time on your Farm . . . . . . . . . . . .80% . . . . . . .55% Ability to Make Complex on-Farm decisions . . . . . . . .87% . . . . . . .51% Session Three – Financial Planning i Identifying logjams and Adverse Factors on Farm . . .87% . . . . . . .94% Attitude Toward Financial Planning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87% . . . . . . .58% How to Increase Farm net Worth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80% . . . . . . .58% determining Viable Profitable Enterprises for your Farm . .80% . . . . . . .54% Session Four – Financial Planning ii Assessing Farm Cash Flow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100% . . . . . . .74% Monitoring your Financial Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .93% . . . . . . .63% Prioritizing and Cutting Farm Expenses to guide Reinvestment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .93% . . . . . . .77% getting Profit you need from your Farm . . . . . . . . . . .86% . . . . . . .59% Session Five – Marketing Profitably Price Products and Services . . . . . . . . . . .100% . . . . . . .80% Using Whole Farm goal and Financial Plan to develop Marketing Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87% . . . . . . .60% Session Six – Business Planning Ability to develop a Business Plan for Farm . . . . . . .100% . . . . . .109% Ability to Implement Systems and Projects to Move Towards Whole Farm goal . . . . . . . . . . . .100% . . . . . . .63% Ability to Use Holistic goal to guide Business Strategic Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100% . . . . . .100% Session Seven – leadership and Communication Awareness of Communication Patterns on Farm . . . . .95% . . . . . . .61% Effective Communication Tools for Farm . . . . . . . . . . .95% . . . . . . .64% Session Eight – land Planning Prioritize land and Infrastructure development/Investments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100% . . . . . . .62% How Permaculture Fits into Holistic land Planning . . .92% . . . . . . .93% design Strategies to Build Resilient, diversified Farms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .85% . . . . . . .53% Session Nine – grazing Value of grazing Planning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100% . . . . . . .67% How to determine the number of Paddocks . . . . . . .100% . . . . . .108% How to determine grazing Periods . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100% . . . . . .108% How to determine number of Animals your Pasture Can Support . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100% . . . . . .116% How to Assess Quantity of Forage in Pasture . . . . . .100% . . . . . .111% Session Ten – Soil Fertility Understanding Eco-system Processes on your Farm . .100% . . . . . . .53% Ability to Monitor Farm Eco-System Health . . . . . . . .100% . . . . . . .81% Indicators of a Healthy Farm Eco-System . . . . . . . . . .92% . . . . . . .58% Top areas of increased Farmer Confidence Due to Program Confidence in. . . Year One human Resource Management developing Written Whole Farm goal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95% Communicating with decision Makers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95% Manage your Time on your Farm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .93% Make Complex decisions on your Farm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87% Building an Effective Management Team . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .84% Financial Resource Management Identifying Resources to Assist you in developing a Business/Strategic Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100% Ability to Identify logjam/Adverse Factors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100% Pricing your Farm Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .93% Prioritizing Cutting Farm Expenses to guide Re-investment . . . . . . .93% Assessing your Competition to Understand your Farm’s Strengths . .93%
developing a Business/Strategic Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .92% determine your Farm’s net Worth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87% Promoting your Farm Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87% Monitoring your Farm Financial Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .86% Implementing Important Strategic Systems and Projects . . . . . . . . . .83% Natural Resource Management Ability to Prioritize land/Infrastructure Improvements on Farm . . . . .100% Ability as a grazer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100% Assessing Recovery Periods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100% Assessing Quantity of Forage and Pasture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100% determining the number of Animals your land Can Support for grazing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100% Calculating the number of Paddocks for your System . . . . . . . . . . .100% determining How long Animals Will Stay in Each Paddock . . . . . . .100% Monitoring your Farm’s Eco-System Health . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100% BwF Participant Behavior Change
Year One Percentage Forged Relationships That Positively Impacted you . . . . . . . . . . . . .93% developed Financial Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87% developed Holistic goal/Whole Farm Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80% developed Business Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80% developed grazing Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .73% developed Marketing Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .67% Post-Session impacts Percent of impacts Experienced Participants human Resource impacts Clearer sense of what your farm is managing towards . . . . . . . . . . .100% Improved Communications on the Farm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100% Improved decision Making . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .93% Financial Management impacts new or Improved Record Keeping Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87% Improved Ability to Articulate goals and objectives of Business to others . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87% Improved ability to determine most effective enterprises . . . . . . . . . .80% Natural Resource Management issues Improved Ability to Incorporate Social, Environmental, and Financial into your land Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100% Improved Understanding of your Forage Composition . . . . . . . . . . . .80% Improved Understanding of your Farm’s Eco-System . . . . . . . . . . . .80%
Texas Cows & Quail Workshops HMI was busy in the early part of the summer with 2 Cows & Quail workshops in Texas. Peggy Cole, HMI Project Manager, organized these events which were highly successful with a great deal of learning for the participants. Survey results showed that there was a 27% increase in knowledge about wildlife and livestock habitat needs, a 36% increase in the importance of grazing, a 34% increase in strategies to manage drought, a 38% increase in the importance of a clear goal, and a 48% increase in knowledge about the ecosystem processes. At the beginning of June, 54 participants gathered in Henrietta, Texas at the Birdwell and Clark Ranch for the north Texas Cows & Quail Workshop. Deborah Clark told the story of the Birdwell and Clark Ranch and how the values, vision and goals have shaped every decision. deborah Clark and Emry Birdwell ranch to make a living, so cows come first and, to that end, the land must be healthy and willing to produce forage. Birdwell and
Clark and their 9 pointers love to hunt quail, so that quality of life aspect is also part of their goal. Dr. Richard Teague from Texas A&M Agrilife Research presented a convincing argument for planned grazing with research findings to back it up. Dr. Richard Teague you can read more on that research at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110615161800.htm Dr. Kelly Reyna from University of north Texas talked about how he has begun a quail corridor to keep populations from declining because of such small isolated communities of coveys. lots of folks showed interest in being a part of this. you can read about it at http://biology.unt.edu/unt-quail/nt-quail-corridor along with quail research and other UnT Quail information. Finally guy glosson, manager of Mesquite grove Ranch near Snyder, Texas explained how they are recovering from devastating fires in a drought condition. guy argues for diversity in plants and animals as the basis for resilience and multi-species habitat. Guy Glosson explaining key habitat indicators. There were differing opinions of how much cover quail need, but the Birdwell and Clark Ranch provided a good case study. Though the prairie eco-region pastures on the Birdwell and Clark Ranch were pretty lush and even, with plant spacing close together, participants heard quail calling at every stop and flushed them frequently as they drove through the pastures. Additional presentations included grazing planning with Emry Birdwell and how to read the land by Richard Teague. He has watched this land improve under the management of Birdwell and Clark for the past 5 years. guy glosson’s observations stimulated discussions on dealing with trailing, on the role of litter and other messages from the ecosystem processes. There was also a water system discussion which included viewing a portable water trough that has eased pressure near the lakes by moving watering activity farther afield. lastly Richard Teague demonstrated a phone app that can tell you on which type of soil your phone is hovering and even which plants you are likely to find there. The app is part of nRCS’s Web Soil Survey (http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/HomePage.htm). guy glosson also talked about why a goal is needed for making management decisions. He conducted a short exercise on looking at the life you want to lead before considering how to get there with your current CONTINUED ON PAGE 18
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resource base. He talked about some of the considerations that go into making management decisions about improving land health and biodiversity using cattle as a tool. There was a high stock density demonstration of 3,800 yearlings moving to fresh pasture and a forage assessment exercise. lastly Richard Teague introduced Kirk gadziaâ€™s simplified method of biological monitoring http://rmsgadzia.com/PdFs/Bulleseye.pdf Then, at the end of June, 30 participants met in Jourdanton, Texas for the South Texas Cows and Quail. Dr. C. wayne hanselka, Steve Nelle and Jason hohlt were the presenters for this similar 2-day educational program. Steve Nelle began with an exploration of what it means to be a land steward. The ethics and values of those who care about the land constantly guide actions and decisions in the management of that land. learning to read your land is key. Know the plants and animals nature puts there as well as the ones you put there. nelleâ€™s fundamental ecological concepts include: diversity, sustainability, habitability, carrying capacity, limiting factors, and side effects that might occur with any action. dr. Hanselka discussed Steve Nelle planning to assure progress
Expanding the Circle
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After everyone had a beginning holistic goal, it was time for the highlight of the day (at least for all the ranchers in attendance). Joe explained how different stock densities create different amounts of trampling versus grazing, where trampling is one good way of getting litter on the ground to feed the soil microbes. With the crowd watching, Joe and a ranch hand moved the 421 head of cattle into a .29 acre area created with single wire electric fence. We watched from another hill as the cattle calmly spread over the small area. After an hour the fence was taken down and the herd spread out. We walked the temporary paddock, noticing that 80% of the vegetation had been trampled rather than grazed. Pictures of the soil surface were taken. There was plenty of marvel and conversation generated by the results on the ground and the stockmanship we had seen. Since that day there have been several other demonstrations, and there seems to be good interest. By lowering the barrier to entry, acknowledging that support is crucial, and always taking the ranchersâ€™ point of view, we seem to be piquing the interest of people who are curious but have not known how to begin. Starting with one very small trial and seeing what the results are may be just the key. during the next growing season, which will start in late fall, the program will help ranchers who have done trials to monitor their
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toward a holistic goal that includes values and ethics, production possibilities and a future resource base that is able to sustain production far into the future. Hanselka talked Dr. Wayne Hanselka about many of the key principles in Holistic Management and possible levels of planning, including a strategic plan (a set of decisions about what, why and how to do something, all with a focus on the future), a tactical plan (implementing toward the strategic plan) and operational plan (the day-to-day actions of the team members). Participants visited the Running V Ranch to learn more and participate in exercises. Ranch owners Suzanne and Pat Schuchart shared how they have an interest in both cattle and wildlife. The ranch hosts a relatively small commercial hunting enterprise and careful planning and monitoring and recent rain have resulted in much forage for both cattle and wildlife. Thanks to the grazing lands Conservation initiative Texas Coalition and the San antonio Chapter of Quails Forever, Texas Range Minerals, inc., Capital Farm Credit, and our host ranches for their generous support of these programs.
September / October 2013
Participants at the California Rancher-To-Rancher Morris Ranch event watch as 421 head of cattle are placed on a little more than a quarter of an acre. progress, evaluate the results, and make a plan for next season. Hopefully, the trials and the results after just one year will be interesting enough to keep people involved for several years. If you would like information on the program or are interested in starting such a program in your area, you can contact me at email@example.com.
9 Rules for Starting a Farm nothing more satisfying than following our own intuition, and being true to our dreams. In 1994, when I was twenty years old, I found myself talking to an older farming couple at a local picnic. We both raised cattle for a living, but they sold their animals straight to corn-fed feedlots. They asked me about my farming ambitions, and I told them of my dream to sell 100% grass-fed beef. The cattle would be completely organic, and I’d direct market the meat myself. I told them our farm could provide food for several hundred families once I really got going. Their reaction? When I had finished speaking, they turned to each other, made eye contact, and burst into uncontrollable laughter. Eighteen years later, despite this withering response from my elders (they apologized for their behavior after they managed to stop laughing, bless their hearts), our farm has accomplished all of these goals and much, much more. If I had worried what my neighboring farmers thought of me, I certainly wouldn’t be sitting here now, typing this list. Believe in yourself, and just go for it. As for that couple? Five years ago, they put a sign up at the end of their lane: “Free-Range Beef for Sale.” The sign is out there at this very moment. Pardon me while I indulge in a moment of uncontrollable laughter.
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Rule #8: Have a Sense of Humor lighten up Francis: When it comes to farming, it’s only a matter of life or death. Think about it for a second. Take an average day at a mainstream job. What’s the worst that typically happens? A client gets pissed off, or an irate customer reams out the supervisor. Maybe larry (whatever happened to guys named larry, anyway?) gets his tie caught in the fax machine…again. Somebody get that guy a golf shirt! on any given day on a farm, things die. And not in any noble, dignified, or discreet kind of way, either. Things die screaming, eviscerated, and—more often than we’d care to think about—partially masticated. Have you ever walked through the morning dew to check on your free-range chickens (cue love theme from “St. Elmo’s Fire”), crested a hill, and found them slaughtered willy-nilly (cue Insane Clown Posse’s “night of the Chainsaw”), their gleaming entrails spilled across the clover? Frankly, it puts this whole farming thing in perspective pretty quickly. And faced with the possibility of daily mayhem, a sense of humor can be a handy-dandy coping mechanism. I learned this particular bit of wisdom from Travis, a farmhand of over 50 years. Travis arrives on my farm each morning sporting an un-ironic trucker’s hat, unruly lamb chop
sideburns, and an emotional disconnect that leaves no doubt he’s capable of neck-punching me into a coma. After pulling a mummified calf from a laboring heifer one afternoon, he regarded me with pale, unblinking eyes. “you know,” he said, “if we didn’t laugh about things, we’d probably end up just murdering each other.” Right you are, Travis. Right you are.
Rule #9: Read. Ask Questions. Share Your Knowledge. okay, so this is really numbers nine, ten, and eleven all rolled into one. Consider it a farming Venn diagram. don’t like to read? Start. Read everything that hits your intellectual radar. Shy? get up near the teacher if you want to learn anything. Have an ego? Better to lose it now, before Mother nature loses it for you. last but not least (bonus rule!): Be generous with your knowledge, especially with people who want to learn from you. So that’s the list. Still want to be a farmer? Congratulations again! you’re entering a world of excellent company. As Bob Evans (yes, that Bob Evans) once told me, there’s no finer group of people on the planet than those who call themselves farmers. By all means, join us.
by ANN ADAMS
Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food, and Saving the Family Farm by FORREST PRITCHARD • Lyon Press • 2013 • pp. 320 • $18.95 Purchase at: http://holisticmanagement.org/store/books/
’ve read a lot of farming books over the last 30 years, and I would have to say that Forrest Pritchard’s Gaining Ground was one of the most inspiring farm books I’ve read. It’s well written and doesn’t pull any punches as Forrest tells the story of returning home to the family farm after graduating from William and Mary College with the idea that he would like to resurrect the family farm that is currently being mismanaged by a series of less than stellar farm managers. His parents work off-farm to pay mounting farm bill debt as they buy Forrest time to figure out his farming practices which turn toward pasture-based livestock operations on the approximately 500 acres of land outside Berryville, Virginia. Smith Meadows Farm (the name that Forrest selects) is an eighth generation farm that was last really farmed profitably by his grandfather who also raised livestock and orchards. Forrest has a deep connection to the land that draws him home and keeps him in the fight to save the family farm when all around him farmers are selling their farms. Forrest does a great job of setting the stage for why he wants to farm differently than many of his neighbors and how Smith Meadows
evolves to raising grass-based cattle, swine, sheep, and chickens and selling those products profitably as well as the resources necessary to do so. If you are a beginning farmer, reading this book will help you see how creating a successful small farm is a possibility, but you need to have certain resources and time to build the business. With a vision and momentum, the family begins to rally around really making a business that can support the family working together. 15 years later they are now selling at 6 farmers’ markets around Washington d.C., have an on-farm store, bed and breakfast, and offer apprenticeships. Forrest was able to articulate his vision for the farm and find others in his family that wanted the same thing. Together they made it happen. Gaining Ground offers other farmers (experienced and wannabe) a needed morale boost in this urban-focused culture as well as helping consumers understand their role in the sustainable agriculture movement—an area where we need to gain a lot more ground.
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◆ These educators provide Holistic Management instruction on behalf of the institutions they
The following Certified Educators listed have been trained to teach and coach individuals in Holistic Management. on a yearly basis, Certified Educators renew their agreement to be affiliated with HMI. This agreement requires their commitment to practice Holistic Management in their own lives and to seek out opportunities for staying current with the latest developments in Holistic Management.
These associate educators provide educational services to their communities and peer groups.
1109 Timber dr., Papillion, nE 68046 402/932-3405 • Tater2d2@cox.net
U N I T E D S TAT E S ARIZONA
Tim Mcgaffic P.o. Box 1903, Cave Creek, AZ 85331 808/936-5749 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Vivianne holmes 239 E Buckfield Rd. Buckfield, ME 04220-4209 207/336-2484 • email@example.com
lee altier College of Agriculture, CSU 400 West First St. Chico, CA 95929-0310 firstname.lastname@example.org • 530/636-2525
larry Dyer 1113 Klondike Ave, Petoskey, MI 49770 231/347-7162 (h) • 231/881-2784 (c) email@example.com
Owen hablutzel 4235 W. 63rd St. los Angeles, CA 90043 310/567-6862 • firstname.lastname@example.org
◆ Seth wilner 24 Main Street, newport, nH 03773 603/863-4497 (h) • 603/863-9200 (w) email@example.com NEW MEXICO ◆ ann adams Holistic Management International 5941 Jefferson St. nE, Suite B Albuquerque, nM 87109 • 505/842-5252 firstname.lastname@example.org Kirk gadzia P.o. Box 1100, Bernalillo, nM 87004 505/867-4685 • 505/867-9952 (f) email@example.com
Richard King Poppy Hill Farm, 1675 Adobe Rd., Petaluma, CA 94954 firstname.lastname@example.org • 707/217-2308 (c) ◆ Rob Rutherford CA Polytechnic State University San luis obispo, CA 93407 805/756-1475 • email@example.com
Preston Sullivan 610 Ed Sullivan lane, n.E. Meadville, MS 39653 firstname.lastname@example.org • 601/384-5310 MONTANA Roland Kroos 4926 Itana Circle, Bozeman, MT 59715 406/522-3862 • 406/581-3038 (c) email@example.com
COLORADO Cindy Dvergsten 17702 County Rd. 23 dolores, Co 81323 970/882-4222 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Montagne *P.o.Cliff Box 173120, Montana State University
department of land Resources and Environmental Science, Bozeman, MT 59717 406/994-5079 • email@example.com
NEW YORK Erica Frenay 454 old 76 Rd. • Brooktondale, ny 14817 607/539-3246 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Phillip Metzger 120 Thompson Creek Rd., norwich, ny 13815 607/316-4182 • email@example.com NORTH DAKOTA Joshua Dukart 2539 Clover Place, Bismarck, nd 58503 701/870-1184 • Joshua_dukart@yahoo.com OREGON Jeff goebel 52 nW Macleay Blvd, Portland, oR 97210 541/610-7084 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Torray & Erin wilson 4375 Pierce Ave. Paullina, IA 51046-7401 712/448-3870 • email@example.com
Paul Swanson 5155 West 12th St., Hastings, nE 68901 402/463-8507 • 402/705-1241 (c) firstname.lastname@example.org
SOUTH DAKOTA holmquist *25267Randal Holmquist Rd., Reliance, Sd 57569 605/473-5356 • email@example.com
TEXAS guy glosson 6717 Hwy. 380, Snyder, TX 79549 806/237-2554 • firstname.lastname@example.org Peggy Maddox P.o. Box 694, ozona, TX 76943-0694 325/392-2292 • 325/226-3042 (c) email@example.com Sechrist *106Peggy Thunderbird Ranch Road
Fredericksburg, TX 78624 830/456-5587 (c) • firstname.lastname@example.org
VERMONT Calley hastings 787 Kibbee Rd., Brookfield, VT 05036 802/279-3893 • Calley.email@example.com WASHINGTON Sandra Matheson 228 E. Smith Rd., Bellingham, WA 98226 360/220-5103 • firstname.lastname@example.org ◆ Don Nelson Washington State University 121 Clark Hall, Pullman, WA 99164-6310 509/335-2922 • email@example.com Doug warnock 6684 E. Highway 124, Prescott, WA 99348 509/629-1671 (c) • 509/849-2264 (h) firstname.lastname@example.org WISCONSIN laura Paine Wisconsin dATCP n893 Kranz Rd., Columbus, WI 53925 608/224-5120 (w) • 920/623-4407 (h) email@example.com
For more information about or application forms for the hMi’s Certified Educator Training Programs, contact ann adams or visit our website: www.holisticmanagement.org.
I N T E R N AT I O N A L CANADA
AUSTRALIA Judi Earl “glen orton” Coolatai, nSW 2402 +61 4 09 151 969 (c) firstname.lastname@example.org graeme hand 150 Caroona lane Branxholme, VIC 3302 61-3-5578-6272 (h) 61-4-1853-2130 (c) email@example.com Dick Richardson Frogmore, Boorowa nSW 2586 61-0-263853217 (w) 61-0-263856224 (h) 61-0-429069001 (c) firstname.lastname@example.org Brian wehlburg Pine Scrub Creek Kindee, nSW 2446 61-2-6587-4353 email@example.com
20 IN PRACTICE
Don Campbell Box 817 Meadow lake, S0X 1y6 306/236-6088 • firstname.lastname@example.org linda & Ralph Corcoran Box 36, langbank, SK S0g 2X0 306/532-4778 • email@example.com allison guichon Box 10, Quilchena, BC V0E 2R0 250/378-4535 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Pigott *Boxlen 222, dysart, SK, SoH 1Ho
306/432-4583 • JlPigott@sasktel.net
Kelly Sidoryk P.o. Box 374 lloydminster, AB S9V 0y4 780/875-9806 (h) • 780/875-4418 (c) email@example.com
Blain hjertaas Box 760, Redvers Saskatchewan SoC 2Ho 306/452-3882 • firstname.lastname@example.org Brian luce RR #4, Ponoka, AB T4J 1R4 403/783-6518 • email@example.com Tony McQuail 86016 Creek line, RR#1 lucknow, on n0g 2H0 519/528-2493 • firstname.lastname@example.org
September / October 2013
usiel Seuakouje Kandjii P.o. Box 23319, Windhoek 9000 264-812840426 (c) • 264-61-244028 (h) email@example.com NEW ZEALAND John King P.o. Box 12011, Beckenham, Christchurch 8242 64-276-737-885 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Christine C. Jost International livestock Research Institute Box 30709, nairobi 00100 254-20-422-3000 254-736-715-417 (c) email@example.com
SOUTH AFRICA wayne Knight Solar Addicts P.o. Box 537, Mokopane, 0600 South Africa 27-0-15-491-5286 +27 15 491 3451 (h) • +27 82 805 3274 (c) firstname.lastname@example.org
NAMIBIA wiebke Volkmann P.o. Box 9285, Windhoek 264-61-225183 or 264-81-127-0081 email@example.com
UNITED KINGDOM Philip Bubb 32 dart Close, St. Ives, Cambridge, PE27 3JB 44-1480-496-2925 (h) • +44 7837 405483 (w) firstname.lastname@example.org
ThE MaRKETPlaCE The 13th Annual ve te! NODPA Field Days a S Da Organic Dairy: e Innovative Strategies th to Stay Profitable
Holistic Goal Setting & Facilitation Services Are you ready to make the most out of your resources? do you need help dealing with critical human resource issues? Has change taken you by surprise?
September 26 & 27, 2013 Mansfield Hose Company Banquet Hall Mansfield, Pennsylvania
HMI provides skilled, objective facilitators to help you achieve your goals! Benefits of Holistic Management Facilitation Include:
To learn more • Elicits key motivators and values contact Frank Aragona from the group for more effective at 505/842-5252 group decision making or by email at • Improves communication franka@ • Improves conflict resolution holisticmanagement.org. • Creates common ground from which to make management decisions and plans • Creates a safe environment to have crucial conversations including generational transfer
September 26 Morning — KTS Farm, Kress and Tammy Simpson and Ann Adams, HMI Farm tour and educational workshops with HMI and KTS Farm Staff Afternoon — KTS Farm Tour Q & A and KTS Farm Succession Planning Planning for your Farm’s Future: Applying Whole Farm Planning to Your Farm September 27 Morning — Multi-Species Cover Cropping (a.k.a. Crop Cocktails) Ray Archuleta, NRCS East National Technology Center (invited) Jeff Moyer, Farm Director, Rodale Institute (invited) King’s AgriSeeds Representative Ask the Vet Q & A: Susan Beal, DVM and A.J. Luft, DVM Afternoon — Sprouted Grains: On-Farm Experimentation : Andrew Dykstra, Dykstra Farms; Roman Stoltzfoos, Spring Wood Organic Farm; and John Stoltzfus, Be-A-Blessing Farm More information & registration will be online at www.nodpa.com or contact NODPA Field Days Coordinator Nora Owens at email@example.com or 413/772-0444.
KINSEY Agricultural Services, Inc.
HELPING DEDICATED GROWERS CORRECT SOIL FERTILITY PROBLEMS KINSEY Agricultural Services works with growers in all 50 states and more than 65 countries, balancing and maintaining the soil to obtain quality crop production. Furthering the work of Prof. William Albrecht and relying on his methods, we have helped clients improve both the quality and productivity of their soil through increased fertility in all types of situations — from certified organic farmers and gardeners to large-scale farms, ranches, nurseries, landscapes and forests, using conventional fertilizer sources. This includes consulting for standard crops such as alfalfa, clovers, corn, cotton, pastures, potatoes, rice, soybeans, sugar beets, wheat and other small grains, and also specialty crops such as wine and table grapes, almonds, pecans, walnuts, citrus, coffee, 297 County Highway bananas, sugar-cane, avocados, olives, melons, 357 Charleston, MO 63834 U.S.A. cover crops, peanuts, timber, turf grass, Phone: 573-683-3880 • Fax: 573-683-6227 ornamental plants — and most major food E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org • www.kinsey.com and fiber crops from all over the world.
Agricultural Services, Inc.
IN PRACTICE 21
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