Rescue Earth System
Regenerative Grazing Management is a structured way of using animals to regenerate pasture, improve soil health and soil carbon storage of soils and improve grazing profitability.
Regenerative Grazing Management
In the context of the Rescue Earth System, Regenerative Grazing Management refers to both Adaptive High Stock Density Grazing and Holistic Planned Grazing. Adhering to Regenerative Grazing Management principles is required by farmers to qualify for Certified RO*Food Pasture Raised meat certification.
Adaptive grazing, as we interpret it today, is simply a form of biomimicry. We are mimicking what the bison and other large ruminants used to provide in terms of biological and environmental impact.
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Regenerative Grazing Management
Regenerative Grazing Management is a structured way of using animals to regenerate pasture, improve soil health and soil carbon storage of soils and improve grazing profitability. This process builds organic material and carbon which in turn supports better nutrient cycling & improved water holding capacity.
The fundamental principle behind this management technique is to use livestock to improve the long-term health and resilience of pastures. Regenerative grazing has the potential to not only significantly reduce costs for the farmer, but also improve the land’s resilience to increasing climate variability.
“When our cattle are grazing properly, they’re creating biology in the soil that aggregates soil particles so that the soil infiltrates and retains a lot more water. With proper livestock grazing, we are finding that we are actually recharging the aquifer and recreating natural springs that have dried up and disappeared. With adaptive grazing, we don’t have the erosion, the sediment leaching or the nitrate and phosphate leaching or runoff. And with every bite that livestock take, we’re creating incredible photosynthetic activity in those plants that is a magnet for more rainfall on that area and cycle more water there.” – Dr Alllen Williams
The clearest distinction between grassfed and conventional beef occurs at the finishing stage. Grassfed cattle remain on pastures and are finished on a diet of predominantly grass or other forages. They grow more slowly and are typically slaughtered at 20-28 months of age
Adaptive High Stock Density Grazing (AHSD)
Adaptive High Stock Density Grazing (AHSD) differentiates itself from other grazing systems in its focus on flexibility. In this system, land use, forage utilization, animal performance and soil health goals are all considered in making decisions. AHSD grazing relies on the basic tenets of observation and fencing portability. Stock densities and animal movement frequency can be altered throughout the annual grazing cycle in order to adjust to changes in climate, forage dry matter (DM) production, animal performance, soil health objectives and lifestyle priorities.
Practitioners should strive to achieve stock densities of at least 250,000 pounds per acre at least once annually. Many current AHSD grazers have effectively used stock densities exceeding 500,000 lbs/acre, followed by long rest periods, to rapidly build soil organic matter (OM), increase soil water infiltration rates, tap into the latent seed bank, and apply “natural” fertilizer in the form of animal manure and urine. The key to successful implementation of such high stock densities is to allow the livestock to consume no more than 40-50% of total available forage DM before moving forward into a fresh grazing paddock.
Increasing frequency of livestock rotations and increasing observational skills allows for enhanced recognition of challenges and changing conditions. Over time, your ability to respond to those challenges gets stronger. As you rotate livestock more frequently, you will find that the mistakes you make are more temporary in nature and more easily resolved. A correction can be as simple as changing the size or length of stay in the next paddock.
Holistic Planned Grazing
Holistic Planned Grazing is a planning process for dealing simply with the great complexity livestock managers face daily in integrating livestock production with crop, wildlife and forest production while working to ensure continued land regeneration, animal health and welfare, and profitability.
Holistic Planned Grazing helps ensure that livestock are in the right place, at the right time, and with the right behaviour.
It is based on a military planning procedure developed over hundreds of years to enable the human mind to handle many variables in a constantly changing, and often stressful, environment. The technique reduces incredible complexity step-by-step to absolute simplicity. It allows managers to focus on the necessary details, one at a time, without losing sight of the whole and what they hope to achieve. Traditional goals of producing meat, milk or fiber generally become a by-product of more primary purposes –creating a landscape and harvesting sunlight.
In the process of creating a landscape, livestock managers also plan for the needs of wildlife, crops, and other uses, as well as the potential fire or drought. To harvest the maximum amount of sunlight, they strive through the planning to decrease the amount of bare ground and increase the mass of plants. They time livestock production cycles to the cycles of nature, market demands, and their own abilities. If profit from livestock is important, they factor that in too. At times they may favour the needs of the livestock, at other times the needs of wildlife or the needs of plants.
Because so many factors are involved, and because they are always changing it is easy to be swayed by those who say we can ignore all the variables: managers will do all right if they just watch the animals and the grass, or if they just keep their animals bunched and rotating.
Each of the factors influencing the grazing plan –when a farmer expects to breed and wean, when and where areas will be covered in snow or threatened by fire, when and where antelope are having their young, when and where ground-nesting birds are laying, when and where the farmer will need to trample an eroding piece of ground or a harvested cropfield, etc. –are recorded on a chart. This provides a clear picture of where livestock need to be and when, and this determines how the manager plans their moves.
Holistic Planned Grazing has proven to be effective for over four decades on roughly 40 million acres on four continents.
Africa is burning more than 809 million hectares of grasslands a year, the immense carbon emission significantly contributing to climate change and destroying the soil. Soil is a living organism like skin, if you burn too much of it, it dies. Dead soil cannot support healthy vegetation and each burn destroys the litter between the plants. Ultimately the space between plants gets greater and greater. This is the opposite of what we want to achieve because we need the plants to be close together to bind the soil and make the rainfall more effective. — Allan Savory
High density Holistic Planned Grazing in Patagonia with 25 000 Sheep in one flock!.
Grazing for Conservation & Wildlife
Grasslands are among our most altered, least protected, and therefore most imperiled ecosystems globally. The tallgrass prairies of North America provide a case in point. With only about 4% remaining, they are outrageously endangered and as such have been identified as habitats of high conservation concern for public and private sector conservation organizations.
Deborah Clark and her husband Emry Birdwell run a stocker operation of 5,000 to 7,000 head on their 14,000-acre ranch in Clay County, Texas. The couple applies principles of regenerative grazing and soil health to restore biodiversity and water quality and quantity, while working towards maximizing profits.
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