Alamosa News | Grazing Workshop for Farmers and Herders
SAN LUIS VALLEY—On Monday, May 23, CSU Extension is offering a grazing workshop designed to benefit both farmers and ranchers. “I believe that constantly reviewing the fundamentals of production practices and farm business management is crucial to surviving and succeeding in the extremely difficult world of agriculture and ranching,” says Larry Brown, Agent extension CSU. Jim Gerrish of Idaho for sharing his vast experience with valley growers during the workshop.
Gerrish is a producer, researcher, teacher and consultant in pasture economics and management. He’s been at it for over forty years and has clients in 43 states and four continents. He’s seen what works and what doesn’t in a wide variety of environments and conditions. More importantly, Gerrish practices what he teaches on his own farm in Idaho, grazing low water use pastures under pivot irrigation at high elevations and about six to eight inches of annual rainfall.
If that sounds like environmental conditions similar to our San Luis Valley, you can see why Brown chose Gerrish. “When I applied for the position of SLV Area Extension Officer this time last year,” Brown recalls, “I was asked what I considered to be the most important issues facing our community. agriculture was facing and what I would do about it. Water was my first response, and rather than delving into SLV’s water policy, providing that kind of education is one of the big things I’m doing to help. » Whether you’re a rancher hit all over by drought, or a farmer who turns to green manure cover crops in your potato rotation to save water, or you’re a grower who can face the possibility of drying up some of your irrigated cropland, this workshop has something for you.
Jim’s three topics for the day are: “Seven Things I’ve Learned in the Last 40 Years of Grazing”, in which he will discuss the interactions between soil, water, forage, animals and money, all important fundamentals for everyone; “Creating a Drought Resistant Farm or Ranch”, which focuses on management principles to improve water infiltration, reduce runoff, improve the soil’s ability to store water by improving the biology of the soil, by reducing water loss through evaporation by keeping the soil covered and establishing more drought-tolerant plant species; “Integrating Livestock into Your Farming Operation”, which will include the principles of all aspects of grazing cover crops or converting irrigated cropland to dryland grazing. The workshop will begin at 9:00 a.m. with a two-hour in-class session, followed by three hours in the field, and conclude in-class with a one-hour wrap-up, question and answer session.
Annie Overlin, specialist in the CSU regional extension range, will also be present for the workshop. Overlin and Brown are already working together on pasture management plans for several ranches and on two demonstration projects involving seven cooperators from farms and ranches around the valley. “Annie is a very active specialist in the field and a valuable CSU resource for the Valley,” says Brown. The duo will offer to form farmer-to-farmer roundtable management groups for farmers and herders attending the workshop. Brown continues, “I’m grateful that Annie is participating. The ongoing roundtable management model is something I have used here in the past, and Annie is currently using it successfully in Southeast Colorado. It provides producers with similar issues and goals a structure to meet periodically and help each other learn by pointing out what works or doesn’t work for them. At this workshop, I will also be launching a valley-wide, pasture and grazer registration service to help farmers with cover crops who need grazing animals, and livestock owners who pastures need to connect with each other.
The workshop begins at 9:00 a.m. in the Rio Grande Water Conservation District building located at 8805 Independence Way in Alamosa.
For more information or to pre-register, call Larry Brown or Jennifer Norris at the SLV Area Extension Office, 719-852-7381 or 719-850-2139.