CONTENTS (PART 1):
1. OZARKS GRAZIERS' FIELD DAY
2. SUSTAINABLE AG INFORMATION ON THE INTERNET
OZARKS GRAZIERS' FIELD DAY
By Radhika Balasubrahmanyam
It is another splendid morning in the Ozarks, but a decidedly nippy
October wind makes it hard to keep pace with Luane Schroeder, a veritable
human dynamo, as she strides insistently across her remarkably verdant
pastureland. Stopping to point at an innocuous plant, she calls, "Hey
Chuck, what is this one called?" Chuck West, Associate Professor of
Agronomy at the University of Arkansas, shakes his head, "I don't know."
"Great," says Schroeder with mock disappointment, "We have an expert who
At the Ozarks Graziers' Gathering on October 14-15, Schroeder and three
couples--the Ratchfords, Dabbs, and Hayes--shared with local cattle
farmers, friends, and interested observers the results of their year-long
experiment in management intensive grazing (MIG). Part of the outreach
required by the Southern SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and
Education) Producer Grant Program, which is funding the experiment, the
gathering was an opportunity to showcase self-sustaining, environmentally
sound and profitable livestock production systems that rely essentially on
Six Years With Almost No Hay
Schroeder, who has used little or no hay on her main cow production herd
for the past six years, emphasizes that eliminating the need for stored
feed and grain supplements--which may constitute between a third to a half
of production costs--could mean the difference between a sustainable and
unsustainable system. Schroeder points with pride to the profusion of
grasses, both native and introduced, that make up her winter stockpile.
The most efficient way to utilize stockpiled forage, she says, is to
stripgraze it. With the help of a movable electric fence, Schroeder
demonstrates the division of a pasture into five equal strips, so that feed
lasts for five days instead of three. She reports that at certain times of
the year, cattle utilize almost 100 percent of the forage; not only is the
pasture more evenly grazed but the cattle eat more and waste less.
Ordinarily, cattle in continuous grazing systems utilize barely 40-45
percent of available forage. Strip grazing, says Schroeder, helps her get
through not just winter but also through an extended dry season.
Schroeder's winter feeding program is a mix of fescue and several
warm-season grasses--dallisgrass, eastern gamagrass, bahiagrass, and
Caucasian bluestem. Chuck West says that the lush fall-grown fescue is high
quality feed and is especially good for overwintering cattle, but cautions
against reliance on stockpiled fescue alone. Mature fescue is prone to
produce alkaloid toxins that cause fescue foot. The addition of clover
and warm season grasses, says West, dilute fescue toxicity and provide
high-protein, highly digestible forage. Schroeder says that sericea
lespedeza also works well with fescue and is good feed for goats and sheep.
Initially introduced to control brush, the goats and sheep love to browse
seedheads and are especially handy when a field gets seeded out; their
presence encourages the growth of clover.
Despite this year's prolonged dry spell, Schroeder's fields are green;
cloaked in dense, diversified vegetative cover. The thick growth not only
helps to reduce run-off, with attendant soil loss and N/P contamination,
but also improves uptake and transfer of sub-soil nutrients to the top
soil. Relying very little on external inputs--feed, fertilizer, machines,
fuel--the farm appears to embody environmental and economic sustainability.
Intensive Grazing Works for Dairy, Too
The Dabbs, partners in the SARE project, have been in the dairy business
for 14 years, but their conversion to intensive grazing is fairly recent.
"Now," says Gay Dabbs, a soft-spoken lady of 62, "we do nothing but graze
intensively. It's the difference between profit and loss." With 60 cows in
their total herd, the Dabbs say they milk nothing but Jerseys. "They're
better than Holsteins; more heat-tolerant, breed well, and take care of
Dabbs estimates that there are maybe eight good dairy farmers in the
county. The others, she says, simply want to "milk till the last drop."
Unlike most farmers who calve year round, the Dabbs' calving season extends
from July to November.
Dabbs reports no problems with flies or disease; milk production, well
above the county average, increased after the switch to MIG. Manure
build-up and odor are noticeably absent. The milk shed is cleaned every
day, and sludge hauled out and spread on the fields every two months.
Wastewater is directed to the field with the help of a $20,000 sprinkle
irrigation system. The Dabbs rotate their herd from paddock to paddock
and strip graze in winter to avoid using hay. "Cows are natural grazers,"
says Dabbs, "This is what they were meant to do."
Both Schroeder and Dabbs emphasize the project best illustrated that
producers with common interests can work well with one another. "The team
did a tremendous job of working together despite personal hardships and
commitments," says Schroeder. "We didn't get all of the answers--we never
will have all the answers--but we were able to identify problem areas,
bounce ideas around, and figure out how to make do and improvise with what
"I've been in this business for almost ten years," reflects Schroeder,
"I do know that I've significantly reduced the amount of time spent on
crisis management. I don't wake up each morning worrying that everything's
falling apart. I am in control of my business, my life."
* * *
For more information on the project, contact Luane Schroeder, P.O. Box
125, Dogpatch, AR 72648; 501-446-5410. For information on the Southern
SARE Producer Grant Program, contact Paula Ford, 1109 Experiment St.,
Griffin, GA 30223-1797; 404-412-4788.
SUSTAINABLE AG INFORMATION ON THE INTERNET
By Nathan Boone
I once heard that in response to a multiple choice questionnaire, a
surprising number of people thought the Internet was a type of hair spray
or, better yet, the space between the cords in a sports net. The Internet
can be many things to many people.
The agricultural community, especially advocates of sustainable
agriculture, are an active and growing presence on the Internet. Farmers,
farmer organizations and researchers around the world are utilizing e-mail,
gopher servers and World Wide Web (WWW) sites to find technical
information, correspond with co-workers, find expert assistance, carry out
research, and network with a wide range of organizations and professionals
in the agricultural community.
Below are some good starting points for those with access to
e-mail, gopher servers and telnet. Watch for upcoming articles on more
advanced levels of agriculture research and networking, including access to
the WWW! In the meantime, don't hesitate to e-mail me with any questions
Almanac Servers, Discussion Groups and Mailing lists
Mailing groups, forums, discussion groups, and listservers are
special interest groups where questions or issues are sent to the group via
e-mail. Members of the group discuss the topic while all members observe
the dialog. (Excerpted from Exploring Internet: An Extension Agents'
Introduction to Networking.)
1. Sustainable agriculture network mailing list: sanet-mg.
This sustainable agriculture mailing list is one of the best. With
700-800 members including many farmer organizations, the range of
agricultural expertise is vast. Requests for information, contacts and
resources are answered quickly and organizational newsletters, interesting
reports and updates are posted frequently.
To subscribe to sanet-mg, send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org with
this command in the body of the message: subscribe sanet-mg. The Almanac
server will add you to the sanet-mg list and send further instructions. If
you have general questions about the mailing groups or Almanac, mail to
2. Community and Rural Economic Development Interests List.
To subscribe, send e-mail to: email@example.com. In the body
of your message type: subscribe RURALDEV "Your Name"
1. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service's Gopher Server
Link: gopher gopher.ces.ncsu.edu
2. University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture's Public Gopher Server
Link: gopher shelley.ca.uky.edu (look for the Agricultural Marketing
3. PENpages at the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences
Link: gopher penpages.psu.edu
Description: PENpages provides full-text information relating to the
agricultural sciences, human nutrition, aging, family, community
development and consumer issues. There are currently over 13,000 reports,
newsletters, bibliographies and fact sheets available over this service.
4. The National Agriculture Library Gopher Server
Link: gopher gopher.nalusda.gov
5. USDA Home Gopher Server
Link: gopher esusda.gov
1. IPMnet -- Integrated Pest Management net
Link: telnet to cicp.biochem.vt.edu (and follow on-screen prompts)
Description: IPMnet offers access to IPM special reports, IPMnet NEWS
issues, the RESISTANT PEST MANAGEMENT newsletter (one issue), technical
information resources, a forum, message center, and databases.
Sent: November 17, 1995 7:45 pm PST Item: R00HIFh