Fall Forage Tour: Carry More Cattle by Acquiring More Land OR Making the Land You Have More Productive?

26 01 2014

McPherson, KS– Cattlemen and producers are invited to the Fall Forage Tour, Friday, November 1 and Saturday, November 2, 2013. The tour will begin at 1:00 p.m. on both days at the Dale Strickler Farm, one mile south of Courtland on the west side of the highway.

Two audiences will benefit from participation in the Fall Forage Tour-cattle producers and those interested in utilizing cover crops to improve soil health. The tour will focus on improving soil productivity through the use of cover crops, forages, and perennial grasses.

According to Strickler, ranchers have two options to increase cattle carrying capacity. They can choose “Horizontal Expansion” by acquiring more land-and more debt-or they can improve existing pastures through “Vertical Expansion.” Vertical Expansion increases the cattle carrying capacity by both expanding the root zone and increasing plant bio mass. Strickler advocates expansion of the root zone through the use of selected cover crops and enhanced soil biology.

Soil and plant roots tell the story of how managed grazing, re-growth, and rest effect not only the top growth of grasses but also their roots. To illustrate this, Strickler will dig a soil pit at his farm’s Eastern Gamagrass site permitting attendees to walk down into it and closely examine the roots and the soil beneath the grass. Dale will explain what is happening at the site so that ranchers can see for themselves that increased root depth results in elevated organic matter levels and improved biological activity in the soil. Expanding the root zone by managing the grazing has the potential to increase the land’s carrying capacity.

At the cabin site, ranchers will have the opportunity to view 27 varieties of cool season cover crops. Most varieties are solo seeded to see the effects of soil tolerances. Five different soil types exist at this location: Calcareous, eroded, poorly-drained bottom ground, well-drained bottom ground and saline sodic. Participants will see Eastern Gamagrass, Grazing Alfalfa, Low Alkaloid Reed Canary Grass, Dale’s Cover Crop Test Plot, Brown Midrib Forage Sorghum Sudan, Tropic Sun Non-Toxic Sun Hemp, Bird’s Foot Trefoil, and frosted warms season residue as well as many other legume, forage and grass varieties.

Dale Strickler, a former Agronomy Instructor at Concordia’s Cloud County Community College, is a Cover Crop and Forage Specialist for Star Seed and is passionate about soil health.

There is no registration fee, but RSVPs are requested. Producers can register on the Amazing Grazing blog at www.kansasgraziers.blogspot.com to indicate the number of people and the day chosen to attend. Questions can go to kfu.mary@gmail.com or 785-562-8726.

The Amazing Grazing Project is a collaborative effort of the following sponsors: Kansas Graziers Association, Kansas Farmers Union, Kansas SARE, Kansas Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Alternative Crops, Kansas Grazing Land Coalition and NRCS-KS with funding from North Central Risk Management Education Center and USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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