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Articles and Updates
Jul 10, 2017, 3:43 PM
The first bit of knowledge that I would suggest as critical to ranch managers is that all agriculture, ranching included is a biological rather than an industrial process. The ranch most likely to be both profitable and sustainable will be the one that best mimics the complex web of relationships between soils, vegetation, grazers and predators that nature has used to create the productive and stable grassland communities that existed in various parts of the world prior to human intervention. This program of natural management evolved over eons of time and is based in the fact that anything that is detrimental – in the long run – to any part of a functioning system is harmful to the entire system. It does not produce the most pounds per acre of animal life or the most pounds of grass but rather a system that is highly resilient and effective in converting solar energy into biological energy over long periods of time. The closer we can keep our management to this model, the more apt we are to build ranches that are ecologically, financially and sociologically sound. The major difference should be that humans assume the role of primary predator. This allows humans to benefit – take subsistence and create wealth – but it also means that we must take on the functions performed by predators: control numbers to suit conditions (set stocking rates); prevent abusive grazing (keep animals concentrated and moving) and maintain genetic fitness in the grazing animals by selection and culling.
Jul 10, 2017, 3:42 PM
Conventional agricultural practice is tailored toward the production of monocultures of various plants and to the concentration of large numbers of animals in small areas in search of efficiency of production. This reliance on monocultures plus common production practices such as pesticide use and tillage greatly reduces the number of kinds of plants, animals and microorganisms present onthe land and in the soil. This lack of biological diversity in the production units sets the scene for a large number of the problems encountered in modern agriculture since simple communities of plants and animals are inherently unstable. The constant onslaught of weeds, diseases and pest animals that plague the modern farm or ranch are nothing more than nature’s efforts to put in place those organisms needed to reestablish a functioning community of plants and animals that uses and reuses all of the available resources of water, energy, minerals and space while wasting none of them. Encouraging biodiversity is the only way to promote production that is sustainable and both financially and ecologically stable.
Jul 10, 2017, 3:41 PM
The concept of sustainable agriculture has received increasing amounts of attention in recent years; there is wide spread realization that much of modern agriculture has become an extractive process with production being taken at the expense of losses in soil health and increasing amounts of inputs from outside the system. Loss of soil organic content and soil erosion are common on most of our cultivated land and these degraded soils require ever greater quantities of fertilizer, energy and irrigation to maintain good production. There are a number of factors contributing to the loss of soil health but one of the prime culprits is that animals have been removed from the farm. A farm without animals loses the manure that for centuries has been the basis of soil health – the manure is now generated at feedlots and confinement housing where it becomes a waste product with a disposal cost. Without animals to convert crop residues into food for soil life and give value to pasture and cover crops, the loss of soil organic matter and the soil life that this material sustains increases with each passing year.
Jul 10, 2017, 3:40 PM
As he enjoyed – soon as the coughing stopped – his first smoke of the day, Mac thought that all in all he was lucky that he wasn’t broke up worse than he was or even dead. He had been in some serious wrecks over the years, most of them coming before he and his running buddy Windy Barton got old enough to have a little sense. Cowboying is not the world’s most genteel profession so they had both acquired the normal amount of broken bones, rope burns and mesquite thorn punctures in their everyday activities but looking back it was their recreation time that did a lot of the damage...
Jul 10, 2017, 3:37 PM
There have been how-to books on lots of different subjects lately and I thought that it might be nice to help those people who get up every morning and wonder “what can I do today to lose money in the ranching business?” There is bound to be a huge demand for this kind of information since regardless of weather or markets, losing money is the main topic of conversation in every coffee shop in the country. The following is a collection of thoughts that should be of use in preventing any accidental out break of profitability.
Jun 29, 2017, 10:00 AM
When we acquired the ability to hold animals on land that could no longer meet their needs for feed and water, we acquired the ability to destroy our grasslands. Prior to human intervention, when growing conditions deteriorated on an area, the grazing animals either left or died; they could not remain to pick at the struggling vegetation and permanently degrade the weakened local environment.