Kittson County livestock producers find success with NRCS grazing plans

All 40-some plans implemented with EQIP assistance over the years remain in operation. Reliable water supplies lead to faster weight gain in calves and higher-quality forage in paddocks.

NRCS District Conservationist Jim Schwab, left, and Mark Larson checked on cattle in a Kittson County paddock that has been rotationally grazed for nearly 20 years. Throughout Kittson County, 40-some NRCS-supported grazing plans encompass about 13,510 acres. EQIP assistance helps to offset the cost of installing permanent water supplies and fencing paddocks. Photo Credits: Ann Wessel, BWSR
Natural Resources Conservation Service website: www.nrcs.usda.gov
“One of the biggest benefits I believe is the distribution of grazing because of the location of water,” Mark Larson said of working with NRCS on prescribed grazing.
A former hayfield, this pasture contains Timothy, alsike clover, Kentucky bluegrass and smooth brome. The rocky terrain made it unsuitable for row crops. Mark Larson leaves 4 to 8 inches of cover. The cattle spend four or five days in each paddock in midsummer. In the spring when grass grows faster, the rotation is shorter.
“They’ll never abandon the water,” NRCS District Conservationist Jim Schwab said of Kittson County producers, who continued their rotational grazing plans even after the contracts ended. In years when the ponds dry up, the well, pipeline and tanks installed with EQIP assistance ensure a fresh water supply.
Mark Larson closed the gate separating rotationally grazed paddocks.
Mark Larson, right, discussed rotational grazing with NRCS District Conservationist Jim Schwab at the gate to rotationally grazed paddocks within a 270-acre pasture in Kittson County.
NRCS’ prescribed grazing practice addresses resource concerns related to water quality and quantity. Among them: Forage suitability and health, wildlife habitat, Wind and water erosion control.
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