Bridging the gap between veteran livestock graziers who often have about 25 years of experience and those new to the practice is a current challenge, the Glacierland Resource Conservation and Development Council's agricultural conservation and grazing outreach specialist Molly Meyers told attendees at the council's advisory board spring meeting.
To cross what Meyers described as 'a tough bridge,' evidence of favorable economics for grazing cattle is always needed, she pointed out. In cooperation with Natural Resource Conservation Service staffs in some counties, Meyers is finding some interest among large confinement operations for grazing their heifers.
However it happens, Meyers hopes to see more agricultural land devoted to the production of forages rather than corn silage. She said numerous forage choices are available for that purpose.
River basin protection
With a $42,445 balance on a three-year grant by the Great Lakes Commission, there is one more grazing season for Glacierland to complete its educational outreach and technical on the merits of grazing livestock and protecting natural resources in the Lower Fox, Sheboygan-Manitowoc and Milwaukee River watersheds, the council's project manager, Kari Divine, reported.
Those efforts are being handled outreach educator Kirsten Jurcek of Jefferson County and technical specialist Mike Gehl of Washington County.
Glacierland is also partnering with the NRCS, Grassworks Inc., and Marathon County to provide employee education on devising grazing plans – two of which are completed with six more pending.
In northeast and southeast regions of Wisconsin, Glacierland is using a $20,000 national Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant to train NRCS, Extension Service and county land and water conservation department employees and to work with landowners on developing grazing ventures.
Meyers reported that participation is growing steadily in the dairy grazing apprentice program, which originated in Wisconsin and is now available in several other states.
She also mentioned an attendance of 60 at a 'Lunch and Learn' program in Green Bay for professionals in the health and natural resource conservation fields.
In what was the last grant Glacierland obtained from the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board, whose funding was terminated by the state legislature, a field day for landowners is being planned for later this year. The council has $4,991 for that event.
Meyers has observed a change in the mindset of providers of grant monies. She explained that they are looking to pay for the carrying out of practices rather than for staffing and administration and for having the recipient entities provide matching funds.