South Dakota Grassland Coalition

If there is a “silver bullet” in ranching, it is building and maintaining healthy soil in rangeland. Heathy soil in pastures drives profit, holds water around plant roots, increases grass plant populations, increases plant diversity, increases root growth and much more. Our ranching culture should be focused on improving soil health in our pastures. Holistic Resource Management (HRM) will make this happen on your ranch.

HRM: A decision-making framework

Holistic Resource Management is an approach to managing resources. HRM is a decision making framework for regenerative management on ranchland. HRM helps you see opportunities on your ranch. HRM challenges the traditions that lead us away from a goal of healthy soil, healthy family, healthy lifestyle and healthy community. A simple way to describe HRM is that instead of bringing a plan to the ranch, you analyze the resource and design your business around these resources.

With soil health being our goal the parts of ranching culture we want to save are the ones contributing to our goal. Some examples would be: subdividing pastures to give grass plants more recovery time, changing calving date to May so pastures are grazed a different time each year. Purchase hay instead of making your own so moving cattle regularly is possible through the summer. Extend the grazing season to include much of the winter. Graze hayfields leaving armor on the ground to promote soil health leading to an increase in production and profit which helps keep families on the land.

With soil health being our goal, the parts of ranching culture we want to change are the ones not contributing to our goal. Some examples of a change to improve pasture health would be: subdividing pastures so as to stop season long grazing. Move the calving date to early summer so any pasture is a potential calving pasture. Start grazing hay ground to improve the soil. Reduce labor by grazing longer in the winter.

The part of the ranch management plan we want to change is the part that is using resources that are not allowing the soil to be productive. If done in a strategic way, soil health on rangeland translates into ranch profit.

The beauty of Nature is that Nature designed grasslands to create its own fertility and resilience. With proper management and biodiversity, those pastures can handle many challenges and remain healthy. The natural world is amazing, and there is no end to learning more about how it works.

In conclusion

In conclusion, HRM is the way to preserve our rural ranching culture, keeping grasslands away from the plow and our families on the land supporting strong communities. Three day HRM courses are currently being planned and will soon be on the Grassland Coalition calendar for 2024. 

Source: SDGC Newsletter

Join our Mailing list!

Get all latest news & be the first to know about upcoming events.