Soil seems to be the hot-button topic of nearly every farmer-focused event and agricultural publication these days. While it’s ironic that this resource, which predates modern agriculture itself, has become the rising star of modern agriculture, it’s appropriate because soil is the foundation of everything we do. Few would argue that the health and long-term productivity of our soil is the most critical factor for the future of agriculture and society.
Stockpile grazing is a technique that can help minimize the high cost of winter feeding. A goal common to nearly all grazing operations is extending the grazing season as late into the year as possible. Using livestock to harvest forage is the most cost-effective method of feeding your animals, and every additional day of grazing has positive implications on farm finances.
Many grazing operations across Wisconsin may look similar during the growing season, but what differentiates them is winter. Graziers employ a variety of winter feeding strategies. For those who choose to keep their livestock outdoors year-round, bale grazing is a common approach. In bale grazing, bales are placed on pasture, often pre-set in a grid pattern prior to winter.
Legumes can play a significant role in grazing systems by adding nitrogen to the soil and boosting the protein content and palatability of the forage. Birdsfoot Trefoil is a legume that is not as common as many clover species but can play a specialized role in Wisconsin pastures.
“If you graze it, it will grow.” This variation of the old Field of Dreams adage is often the mantra of grazing influencers. And in many cases, adding livestock to a forage system can induce growth through disturbance and nutrient cycling.
We have paid little attention to Pure Live Seed (PLS) in the Midwest because we have generally had high quality seed (greater than 90% germ and 98% purity). But the short forage seed supply has caused some low quality seed to come on the market.