Monday, October 3, 2011

Fall Planning

Today is the first Monday of October and as I just got back in the house from morning chores I can report a fantastic temperature of 58 degrees F.  The gardens got frost bit for two nights in a row so they are really shrinking fast.  Thank goodness for cool season grasses though, our fescue has really taken off.  We will have enormous growth for the next 60 days in our pastures.  It is our ability to have not only substantial forage growth in the spring time, like most places, but our fall growth is like earning 10% over prime. 

However, this fall growth is not a time to begin stockpiling for winter feed.  If we have done nothing all year long to prepare for this growth spurt, little can be gained over the next two months, of almost perfect growing conditions to reduce and especially to eliminate winter feeding of hay.  What I mean is all year long up to this point we will have had to be moving the herd through our many paddocks in a planned grazing program in order to keep the root system and biology in the soil ready for this time.  It is also very important how we managed these paddocks in the prior year.  How I grazed this spring will have a direct consequence on next years growth. 

 Even if you do not farm or ranch where cool season grasses thrive, a system of planned grazing is absolutely necessary for optimum growth of forages.  Even in Southern Missouri where stocking rates can be very high, we can easily double our forage production or more.  Other types of growing areas will have even a greater need to learn the requirements of capturing every drop of rain water that falls during the year, gain the understanding of feeding the biology in the soil, how to maximize photosynthesis, so that mechanically processed feeds can be reduced or eliminated.  First we eliminate these high costs of processed feeds then we begin to add additional animals.

Not only will the need be to add more to your current herd once progress appears in your paddocks.  But the need will be to add other species to not only promote more growth but to better utilize what grows there already.  It has been a naive agriculture community to believe that single species farming was sustainable.  Farms of distant past involved rotations of crops and many different species of animals and plants.  This was not only a good idea because of nostalgia, but because of the symbiotic relationship between these different species and the improvement in the whole system when the farm is not subjected to the limited potential that single species environments perpetuate.  

So I encourage all to learn more about multi-species farming and to implement a strategy to gain from what advantages it will bring.  Farming without animals is not farming at all.  The life cycle of birth, growth, death and decay are essential for a planet based on a biological structure.  Science has benefits when applied in a constructive manner.  It helps teach us how and why a system functions in such a way for all to benefit.  A science that makes an attempt to replace a biological world with man made chemistry and or technology will surely succeed.  It will succeed so vehemently that all biology will in deed be ultimately and completely dismantled. 

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