South Dakota Grassland Coalition

by Brett Nix

Sept 2020

Have you ever wanted to make a change on your ranch but you just couldn’t find the time to make it happen or you didn’t know how to start?

If you are like me I seem to be able to fill each day full to over-flowing. Most of us are busy fixing fence, repairing the leaky water tank valve, welding the loader, moving cattle, and returning phone calls. Making time to slow down, sit and think things through, and strategize is nearly impossible. I have to convince myself that I am not too busy and that I am not being lazy.


I call this time “mental management”

And I believe it is the most important and profitable time that I invest in our business. Part of this time is spent deciding how to implement regenerative and profitable grazing and soil principles. We have set out on a journey to help our soil and plant community be as resilient as possible.

Some of the goals involved are:
1) keep the soil covered,
2) create and promote diversity above and below the ground,
3) have living roots and green leaves as many days of the year as possible,
4) practice short graze periods and adequate recovery periods,
5) have as few herds as possible, and
6) keep adjustable stocking rates and as high of stocking density as we are comfortable managing.

These goals do not implement themselves but require thought and research. That is where our willingness to spend time managing comes in. To increase stocking rate we must increase forage production and often water capacity. At some point, adding permanent or temporary fence is necessary. Deciding when and where to calve. Maybe how to provide dormant/winter feed while better utilizing our resources, all the while keeping an eye on our goals.

To manage all of the pieces of this puzzle that we call our ranch, we have had to get out of the coral and seek educational opportunities. The SDGC provides grazing schools, workshops with tremendous speakers, and pasture walks at ranches that are already doing what we are trying to accomplish and access to ranchers who are willing to answer our questions.

The SDGC now offers a consulting program to grazing school graduates who would like help in implementing positive changes on their ranches. You can contact Dan Rasmussen listed on our website if interested.

I have had to learn to carve out time in the office in front of our ranch maps or tie up the horse (or four wheeler) under the shade tree, and allow my mind to slow down and think through what it is that we want to accomplish. Being willing to reach out to others who were so graciously willing to share with us has allowed us to accomplish so much more than had we gone it alone.

Check out our Mentoring Network for more information you might be interested in inquiring about.

Source: SDGC Newsletter

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