Beef Buzz News
Jimmy Emmons Tells Ranchers to Be Proactive During Dry Times by Prioritizing Grazing Management
Wed, 06 Apr 2022 08:42:06 CDT
Jimmy Emmons, Oklahoma Conservation Commission’s Soil Health Mentoring Coordinator, talks with Ron Hays about the importance of building a healthy soil profile on our ranchlands, rangelands and croplands.
“It’s all about grazing management and rotational grazing,” Emmons said.
Emmons suggests heavy stocking on a few acres with rotation every three days. While many of us are over that limit of three days, Emmons added, the grass would benefit from that rotation because it “leaves out” again after a few days.
“The more of that you can do, the better your soul is, because your grass improves,” Emmons said. “You’ll have more cover and shade to protect the soil from the sun’s heat.”
Going from spring to early summer, Emmons said it will be important to protect your pastures and get into a rotational grazing plan. During these dry times, we need to try to the best of our ability not to overgraze, he added.
While it is tempting to feed more grass to lower fuel load in these time periods, doing so will have detrimental effects going into summer, Emmons said. We are going to need that grass on the ground to protect the soil and absorb sunlight, he said.
“When we do catch these rains, we know with this whiplash weather, there are going to be large events with one to five inches at a time,” Emmons said. “So, we need that armor on the ground to protect it.”
Emmons said getting educated on what soil health means and keeping every raindrop where it falls is essential.
“Where I live in northwest Oklahoma this is important, but in places like eastern Oklahoma with all the forage and vegetation, they can experience a drought pretty quick too,” Emmons said.
For individuals new to building a healthy soil profile, Emmons said learning when to move cows, understanding the concept of how grass grows, and how animals graze will allow them to manage to the best of their ability. There is a lot of opportunity coming for producers having the ability to run higher stock numbers per acre on their ranch in normal conditions, Emmons adds, but in these drought conditions, many will have to reduce their herd size to protect that.
“That’s the hard part for a cattleman,” Emmons said. “Being a cattleman myself, it is hard to sell cows when that makes you money- but in a drought, it is about being proactive upfront and reducing those numbers before you abuse that grass and hurt it for the long term.”
Emmons said having a drought plan will be crucial as the long-range forecast predicts we may have a harder time in the future due to drought. As temperatures rise and heat builds, humidity goes down and it is harder to get energy and promote rainfall, Emmons added. Keeping cool coverage to support that small water cycle is going to be important going forward to keep something growing, he said.
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear more on this topic from Ron Hays and Jimmy Emmons.
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