The source of soil organic matter is photosynthesis resulting in plant growth—either root or above ground. Therefore, the organic matter cannot increase more than the amount of plant growth that can be produced in a year.
Chuck Reynolds, District Conservationist
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
May 2, 2018
Hopefully this winter is finally coming to an end. It’s been one that many of us would like to forget. Recently, it been rain, more rain and with that comes mud especially if you are dealing with livestock.
As I drive through the countryside, I have noticed that livestock that are turned out in large “exercise areas” and already have the entire lot torn up. Recently I attended a meeting hosted by the Ohio Department of Agriculture dealing with livestock waste, feedlots, milkhouse water, and soil erosion. The presenter stated that areas with “no vegetation are considered a feed lot and vegetative areas are considered pasture”. With that being said, I see a number of “feedlots” that are extremely large for the number of animals on them. With water quality and soil erosion issue concerns in the public eye more, reducing lot sizes would reduce erosion and improve water quality.
Between Midwest Planning Service planning data and the Natural Resources Conservation Service Technical Guide information, local NRCS/SWCD staff can provide technical services with a field visit to review your situation to possibly solve the resource issues and meet your objectives. Using the MWPS planning data, a 1300 pound cow only needs between 300-500 square feet if using a lot. This number can be reduced to as low 60-75 square feet per cow if the surface is paved or concrete. Many of the situations I see, already have some if not all the hard surface they need. With some conservation planning, additional conservation practices like pasture management, rotational grazing, heavy use areas, fence, access lanes, conservation cover, pipeline and watering facilities may be able to be utilized to meet your goals and reduce erosion and improve the water quality running off.
Chuck is the District Conservationist for Holmes and Coshocton counties with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. He began his career as a summer trainee in 1981 with the Soil Conservation Service and has been located in Ashland, Delaware, Harrison, and Fairfield counties prior to moving to Holmes County August of 1984. He graduated from The Ohio State University in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture. Chuck is married to Beth (Oswald) and resides near Berlin. Chuck and Beth have two sons, Luke and Cole located in Columbus. He also has a 215 acre farm in Knox County that he owns in partnership with his mom and brother. Many conservation practices have been implemented and maintained as part of the operation. Contact Chuck at 330-674-2811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
In our neck of the woods, legislators trust producers’ good judgment to avoid spreading manure in conditions that could allow run-off to contaminate surface waters. The bad news is that if manure does make it to the water, a producer can face civil penalties ranging as high as $10,000—just the same as farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin. Holmes SWCD DIstrict Technician John Lorson covers the details of this change in protocol and howSoil and Water staff members are always can help producers identify best management practices.
Soil loss may one of the most damaging aspects of production agriculture. It has a tremendous effect on both soil health and water quality. Under the best case scenario, soil can only rebuild at a rate of 0.24 tons per acre per year. When you’re losing soil, you’re losing both yield and money. Holmes SWCD Water Quality Technician Joe Christner helps you run the numbers and evaluate how topsoil loss may be affecting your bottom line.
We know that livestock have stomachs. We know that the basic function of the stomach is to convert what we feed our animals to nutrients they can use for growth and production. Because the income from our livestock is based on this process we make the effort to provide the management and feed for a healthy functioning stomach. But what about plants? Holmes SWCD Water Quality Technician Joe Christner gives you the scoop.
A good rotational grazing system begins with a forage system that allows the maximum number of grazing days per year with forages that are suited to the land, livestock, and manager's abilities and desires. Resource Conservationist Gina Schworm summarizes some important factors to consider in these areas.
Planning season is about as welcome as frozen water lines on many farms, but the successful development and implementation of these plans will bring benefits that endure for the next production year. The results are usually less immediate than that thawed water line, but no less valuable. Program Assistant Dean Slates walks you through the process.