As water sources dry up, farmers are culling herds, stripping trees of fruit and forgoing planting crops this year.
As water sources dry up, farmers are culling herds, stripping trees of fruit and forgoing planting crops this year.
By Nate Birt
Trust In Food, a Farm Journal initiative
Jun 03, 2021
American farmers are conservationists at heart, but it can be a challenge to know where to start when it comes to conservation planning. Finding the right technical assistance and determining whether a conservation practice actually works for your land isn’t always easy.
The new Resource Stewardship Planning Guide, backed by NRCS science and developed by the editors at Farm Journal, is now available to help. This free workbook is the first in a three-part series published as part of America’s Conservation Ag Movement, a public-private partnership that helps producers use profitable and conservation-minded practices. The Soil Health Guide is currently available, and a Water Quality Guide will be available soon.
Here are 10 tips from this new interactive workbook—available in digital format to download for free.
Learning from other producers’ conservation experiences is a great way to evaluate what might work in for you. In this workbook, you’ll find plenty of stories from farmers across the U.S., including row crop producers from the Midwest, cattle ranchers from the Plains, and more.
Check out pages 4-7 for a primer on the process of conservation planning. Then fill out workbook pages 8-10 to see where your own farm stands and to identify some practical next steps you might take. There’s a cheat sheet on page 11 with some examples to get those gears turning!
A farm is rarely composed of a single giant parcel. Instead, it often spans soil types, terrains, and counties. That’s why it’s important to know where you are and what type of land within a field you’re dealing with. Page 12 breaks down four common categories: cropland; associated agricultural lands; grazing, pastureland, and rangeland; and animal feeding operations.
If you raise crops such as corn or soybeans, pages 13-16 are for you. Starting with a soil loss assessment, you can begin to identify where conservation in your fields can deliver the strongest ROI. This section will also help you take stock of unique attributes of individual fields, such as proximity to adjacent bodies of water. The flow chart on page 15 can help you determine what you need and who can help.
Some spots in fields have notorious problems like ponding, erosion, or poor productivity. In these places, it might make sense to consider how you might save a precious resource—capital. Pages 17-21 provide insights on associated ag lands and illustrate how farmers are reimaging them for better lands and a better bottom line.
Fencing is an infrastructure investment that NRCS programs can use to help livestock producers. From pages 23-27, you’ll discover that conservation planning isn’t just for row crop—it applies to every farm or ranch, albeit with its own specific toolbox of best management practices.
If you raise livestock, then feed handling, waste management, and other activities have a central role in conservation planning. Learn how to integrate stewardship into these staples of farm life from pages 28-36. Then meet hog producers from South Dakota who are putting these principles to work.
Conservation might seem like a big investment of time and money, but in many cases, stewardship begins with an evaluation of what you—and your landlord—care most about when it comes to the farm. Pages 37-40 illustrate practical ways to start a conservation about rented land to ensure both parties benefit.
If you’re skeptical about whether conservation can have positive financial benefits, check out page 41. There is a step-by-step example of how stewardship can be a win-win for your business and the natural resources you manage.
Now that you’ve explored the many ways in which conservation planning can make a difference for farms like yours, it’s time to ask: Who can help me do that? From pages 43-46, you’ll find practical tips for locating the right kind of technical service provider in your local area. There are plenty of links so that you can do your own research online.
Interested in learning more about how conservation can help your farm? Click here to get your free guide to explore what the next step of your own conservation journey might be.
America’s Conservation Ag Movement is organized by Trust In Food, a Farm Journalinitiative, in partnership with the Farm Journal Foundation. Financial and technical support is provided by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and leading agribusinesses, food companies and nonprofit organizations.
· Many grasses can be fertilized throughout the spring and summer
· Some deficiencies may not be apparent to the naked eye
· Soil testing key to meeting the needs of the pasture
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — With spring temperatures on the horizon, many ranchers and pasture managers are looking to their calendar, deciding when to turn cattle out for grazing or planning that first cut of hay.
Dirk Philipp, associate professor of animal science for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said producers should first take look at the condition of their pastures, and make sure they’re setting themselves up for success.
“It’s time to give your pastures some love,” Philipp said.
He said the first step for producers to ensure a good grazing season is to walk through their pastures and assess the condition of the forage base, asking a few key questions along the way.
“Did the species composition change from the year prior?” Philipp said. “Do you see any kind of novel weed plants you normally don’t see there? Do you still have a 75 percent or greater coverage of your main forage base?”
Producers who plan to sell hay such as bermudagrass, and are looking to establish a clean stand of forage, should apply herbicides while both the grass and weeds are still dormant, Philipp said.
“Take a soil sample if you forgot to do so last fall,” he said. “This will help in assessing the needs for replacing macro-nutrients besides the nitrogen. Don’t let major nutrient deficiencies crop up over the years — it is very expensive to correct major deficiencies, especially potassium.
“Fescue is resilient, and you may not be able to judge deficiencies just from looking at the foliage such as is the case with orchardgrass,” Philipp said.
If growers haven’t already been applying nitrogen fertilizers to cool-season perennial grasses, time is running out on that opportunity, Phillip said.
“Ideally, you would apply 60-70 pounds of nitrogen in early to mid-March,” he said. “Orchardgrass, especially, is very responsive to nitrogen fertilization and will lose vigor rapidly if not fertilized.”
Philipp said growers should look for yellowish leaves and weak growth in orchardgrass, which are tell-tale signs that nitrogen is missing. However, hope is not lost if March came and went without fertilization.
“You can apply nitrogen fertilizer anytime during spring, but you obviously want to catch the major growth phase between March and early Summer,” he said.
Additionally, some forages require calibrated management to thrive. Forages such as orchardgrass, for example, need to be defoliated to maintain a healthy stand and to avoid a buildup of decayed leaves.
Philipp recommended stocking cattle on cool-season perennials when the canopy is about 18–24 inches.
“What’s important is to start grazing in the vegetative phase before plants reach maturity, but remove animals on time to retain enough leaf material for regrowth,” he said. “This means producers should find the ‘sweet spot,’ moving cattle to new paddocks and then removing them before the canopy becomes grazed too short.”
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Register before rates increase April 16!
April 6, 2021 – Animal rights activists continue to create obstacles for farms, processing facilities, grocery stores, animal agriculture companies and others involved in the supply chain working to provide consumers with safe, affordable animal protein. Panels at the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 2021 Virtual Summit will address new activist trends that have emerged and provide best practices to protect farms and facilities.
The Alliance’s annual Summit brings together thought leaders in the agriculture and food industries to discuss hot-button issues and out-of-the-box ideas to connect everyone along the food chain, engage influencers and protect the future of animal agriculture. The 2021 event, themed “Obstacles to Opportunities,” is scheduled for May 5-6 with preconference webinars planned for the five business days prior, beginning Wednesday, April 28.
“Taking advantage of people when they are most vulnerable is a disgrace, but that’s just what animal rights activists have done during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Hannah Thompson-Weeman, Alliance vice president of strategic engagement. “While the rest of the world was focused on mitigating the effects of the global public health crisis, these groups continued to mercilessly push their vegan and anti-animal agriculture agendas. Our security and legal panels will discuss the obstacles created by animal rights groups over the past year and dive into opportunities to safeguard the future of the animal agriculture community.”
In the “Overcoming Obstacles: Activist Update & Security Advice” panel, speakers will provide an update on animal rights activists’ efforts to capitalize on the COVID-19 crisis, protests outside of company CEO’s homes, trespasses onto farms and more. But, most importantly they will share how attendees can overcome these obstacles by implementing proactive security and crisis planning measures. The expert panel includes:
Directly following the security panel, legal updates will be provided as part of the “Navigating the Legal Landscape” session. Animal agriculture is on trial in the court of public opinion as animal rights activists spread misinformation about animal welfare, sustainability and other key issues. However, animal rights activists are also taking their plight to the actual courtroom as they bring coordinated litigation against farms and companies. Attendees will learn about the topics and trends that affect your businesses and organizations, including proactive steps that may be taken to avoid litigation issues and best practices on how to navigate the legal landscape with these groups. Seasoned agriculture law attorneys serving on the panel include:
The full Virtual Summit agenda is available on the Virtual Summit registration website. Sessions will highlight ways to position animal agriculture as a path forward to climate neutrality, how to elevate the voices of farmers in dialogues surrounding food and agriculture, and strategies for virtual stakeholder and influencer engagement.
Be sure to check the Virtual Summit website for the most up-to-date information and to register. You can also follow the hashtag #AAA21 for periodic updates about the event. For general questions about the Summit please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (703) 562-5160.
Show your support for the Alliance’s outreach efforts by becoming an official Summit sponsor today! For 2021 sponsorship opportunities, please visithttps://animalagalliance.org/initiatives/stakeholders-summit/. For more information, contact Casey Kinler at email@example.com.
Thank you to our 2021 Summit sponsors: Watt Global Media, Farm Journal, Meatingplace, National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Smithfield, National Pork Board, American Feed Industry Association, United Soybean Board, United Egg Producers, Country Folks, Dairy MAX, Farm Credit, National Biodiesel Board, Cobb Vantress, Inc., Protect the Harvest, Progressive Dairy, The National Provisioner, Kemin, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Veal Association, National Chicken Council, Trans Ova Genetics, Vivayic, Mountaire Farms, North Carolina Farm Bureau and Eggland’s Best.
The Alliance also thanks the following members for their continued support of Summit and other Alliance programs: U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, Zoetis, Merck Animal Health, C.O.nxt, Diamond V, Genus PLC – PIC/ABS, Aviagen Group, Boehringer Ingelheim, Cargill, Dairy Farmers of America, Hendrix Genetics, Hy-Line North America, LLC, Iowa Soybean Association, Midwest Dairy, National Turkey Federation, Nutrien, Provimi North America, Inc., Seaboard Foods and Tyson Foods Inc.
About the Alliance:
The Animal Agriculture Alliance is an industry-united, nonprofit organization that helps bridge the communication gap between farm and fork. We connect key food industry stakeholders to arm them with responses to emerging issues. We engage food chain influencers and promote consumer choice by helping them better understand modern animal agriculture. We protect by exposing those who threaten our nation’s food security with damaging misinformation.