Grazing workshop for both farmers and ranchers

Jim Gerrish

SAN LUIS VALLEY—On Monday, May 23, CSU Extension is offering a Grazing workshop that is designed to benefit both farmers and ranchers. “I believe constantly reviewing the fundamental principles of production practices and Ag business management is crucial for survival and success in today’s extremely challenging farming and ranching world”, says CSU Extension Agent, Larry Brown. Jim Gerrish from Idaho to share his vast experience with Valley producers during the workshop.

Gerrish is a producer, researcher, teacher and consultant in grazing economics and management. He has been at this over forty years and has clients in 43 states and four continents. He has seen what works and what doesn’t work across a wide variety of environments and conditions. Most importantly, Gerrish practices what he teaches on his own operation in Idaho, grazing low water use pasture under pivot irrigation at high elevation and with about six to eight inches of annual precipitation.

If this sounds like similar environmental conditions to our San Luis Valley, you are getting the picture of why Brown choose Gerrish. “When I applied for the SLV Area Extension Agent job this time last year”, recalls Brown, “I was asked what I saw as the most important issues facing our Ag community and what I would do about it. Water was my first answer, and rather than diving into the politics of SLV water, bringing in this type of education is one of the big things I’m doing to help.” Whether you are a rancher being slammed from all sides by the drought, or a farmer who is shifting to green manure cover crops in your potato rotation to save water, or if you are a producer who may be facing the possibility of drying up some of your irrigated cropland, this workshop has something for you.

Jim’s three topics for the day are: “Seven things I’ve learned in the past 40 years of grazing”, in which he will discuss the interactions of soil, water, forage, animals, and cash, all fundamental principles important to everyone; “Creating a drought resilient farm or ranch”, which focuses on management principles to improve water infiltration, reduce runoff, improve the ability of the soil to store water by improving soil biology, reducing evaporative water loss by keeping the ground covered, and establishing more drought tolerant plant species; “Incorporating livestock into your farming operation”, which will include principles of all aspects of grazing cover crops or converting irrigated cropland to dryland pasture. The workshop will begin at 9:00 a.m. with a two hour classroom session, followed by three hours in the field, and concluding back in the classroom with a one hour wrap-up, question and answer session.

Annie Overlin, CSU Extension Regional Range Specialist, will also be on hand for the workshop. Overlin and Brown are already working together on grazing management plans for several ranches and on two demonstration projects involving seven farm and ranch cooperators around the Valley. “Annie is a very active, in-the-field specialist and a valuable CSU resource for the Valley”, declares Brown. The duo will offer to form producer-to-producer, roundtable management groups for the  farmers and ranchers participating in the workshop. Brown continues, “I’m grateful Annie will be participating. The ongoing roundtable management model is something I used here in the past, and Annie is currently using successfully in southeastern Colorado. It provides producers with similar issues and goals a structure to meet periodically and help one another learn by reporting what is or is not working for them. At this workshop, I will also start a Valley-Wide, Pasture and Grazer’s listing service to help farmers with cover crops who need grazing animals, and livestock owners who need pasture get connected with one another.”

The workshop begins 9:00a.m at the Rio Grande Water Conservation District building located at 8805 Independence Way in Alamosa.

For additional information or to preregister, call Larry Brown or Jennifer Norris at the SLV Area Extension office, 719-852-7381 or 719-850-2139.

 

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