A functioning ecosystem isn’t complete without animals to help close the nutrient loop. One key way farmers are building soil organic matter, cycling nutrients, and adding economic value to their farmland is by integrating ruminant livestock — beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, and goats — into a well-managed grazing system. Simply turning animals out onto open pastures and allowing them to roam creates its own problems. Farmers raising livestock as a soil- and profit-building tool are using managed rotational grazing of livestock. A managed rotational grazing system generally includes:
- Being goal-oriented and flexible.
- Using higher stock densities and moving livestock more frequently to graze and distribute fertility across the landscape evenly.
- Relying on temporary fencing technology for frequent movement.
- Increasing rest periods to allow for plant root system recovery.
Managed rotationally grazing systems can go beyond sustainability — they can help to regenerate soil by sequestering carbon, supercharging biological activity, and building soil structure. Many farmers are using managed rotational grazing to increase productivity of perennial pastures and allow for multiple uses of annual cropland through grazing of cover crops and crop residue. Please check out the resources on this page to learn more about managed rotational grazing and the ways farmers are implementing this tool.
What's new in Grazing at LSP?
Check out our Online Pasture Talks in September & Beyond!
LSP’s Soil Health Program is launching an Online Pasture Talk series that connects graziers across Minnesota with one another and opens doors for farmer-to-farmer learning.
Online Pasture Talks are FREE one-hour events that take place on Zoom and include a 15-minute farmer presentation on relevant grazing topics, followed by a 30-minute interactive group discussion. A soil health team member will help with scheduling, organizing the online gathering, and facilitating discussion. However, the WHO and WHAT will be driven by farmer leadership and participation.
We are looking for: 1) farmers to feature; 2) grazing topics to cover.
Grazing Group Blogs
2019 Field Days and Workshops
Grazing Fact Sheets
• Financial Analysis of Cow-Calf Grazing
• Grazing For Landowners: Livestock as a Tool for Land Management
• Managed Grazing: Soil Health & Profitability for Farmers With Livestock
• Farming with Well-Managed Grazing & Continuous Living Cover Enhances Soil Health & Addresses Climate Change
White Paper: Grazing, Continuous Living Cover, Climate Change & Water
In early 2020, LSP published a white paper showing that farming systems that integrate managed rotational grazing and continuous living cover can help us tackle the twin problems of climate change and water pollution. Check it out on our Carbon Farming web page here.
Grazing Stories & Blogs
- Midwest Family La Crosse Radio Interview: Meyer Family Embraces Regenerative Agriculture with Diversified Farming (3/10/20)
- Blog: Midwestern Farms Can Counter Climate Change (3/9/20)
- LSP Podcast: How farmers Dawn & Grant Breitkreutz are building soil carbon & bolstering profitability. (2/20/20)
- Agri-View Article: Raise it, Sell it, Build for the Future (1/24/20)
- LSP Blog: The Power of Pasture Walks, by Jean Erpelding(1/24/2020)
- LSP Podcast: A U of M experiment station's research into grazing, cover crops, and soil health. (12/3/19)
- Agri-View Article: Producer proposes fair-wage milk (12/2/19)
- Agri-View Article: It's all about profit, next generation (11/19/19)
- Agri-View Article: Lessons learned fuel new start (11/14/19)
- Winona Post Article: Ridgeway farmers grow corn and covers — simultaneously (10/2/19)
- Blog: Robbing the Farm or Enriching the Farm: Which is the Better Way? (8/9/19)
- Agri News Article: Challenges in karst country farming (8/1/19)
- Plainview News Article: 'Best Thing in the World' (article on Bedtke grazing field day) (7/25/19)
- Winona Post Article: The rewards of rotational grazing (7/24/19)
- Blog: Soil Health: Short-Term Gains, Long-Term Dividends (7/17/19)
- Brownfield Radio Story: Weather Pressures Feed Supplies on Organic Dairy (7/2/19)
- Blog: A Farmer's View of Climate Change (6/27/19)
- Agri-View Article: Cattle graze enhanced meadows (6/6/19)
- Blog: Building a Dairy Farm's Resilience Through Soil Health (11/27/18)
- Blog: Jon Luhman: A Farm Makes Changes to Benefit Soil, Profit & Quality of Life (3/3/17)