LUSK- “Soil, water, and sunlight. It is from these resources that all life develops. It is also from these resources that farmers and ranchers make their living. How we take care of each of these defines our operation. It is our belief that we need to regenerate our landscapes in order for both our and future generations to be sustainable. Cover crops, zero-till, crop and livestock diversity, and high density grazing are all tools we use to improve these resources,” shares Brown.
The Niobrara Conservation District is hosting Gabe Brown, a nationally-recognized innovator of cover crop cocktails in no-till grain and livestock production systems on November 9th at the Niobrara County Fairgrounds. Gabe Brown was just named one of the 25 most influential people in agriculture. Maximizing income potential through stacked enterprises and finding synergy between enterprises as well as enhancing the resources is the goal.
Brown states, “the soil beneath us is alive! There are more organisms in a teaspoonful of healthy soil than there are people on earth. It is from this soil life that the nutrients needed to sustain higher forms of life (plants, animals, and people) are derived. If we were to till the soil it would destroy the habitat (home) for this soil life, thus we have not tilled for over 21 years. The misuse of chemical inputs (pesticides, chemical fertilizer and herbicides) is also detrimental to soil life. For this reason we do not use synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, GMOs, and glyphosate.”
DIVERSITY! Good healthy native range is tremendously diverse. Often there are over 100 species of grasses, forbs and shrubs in a healthy range. Why then is production agriculture focused on producing monocultures? Where in nature do we see monocultures? So, we diversified our cropping system, warm season and cool season, broadleaves and grasses, fibrous and taproots.
The Ranch runs the chickens behind the cattle because they do an excellent job of sanitizing the land and provide our family with nutritious eggs and meat. The laying hens lay in a portable eggmobile that is moved a few times a week and are able to free-range. The broilers are contained within a broilermobile that is moved daily so they can pick for insects and forage. Anytime another species is added, it opens the door for greater diversity in the ecosystem and provide many direct and indirect benefits.
They have added Katahdin hair sheep to the operation and are integrating them directly with the cattle. They have been known to help aid in parasite control with cattle because they act as a dead-end host for parasites specific to cattle and vice-versa. This will be very beneficial to our land base because cattle and sheep harvest a different level of energy, so the utilization efficiency on our land will increase. We are also adding pasture hogs to the operation. They will also be utilized to turn our compost piles. This would be a relatively low cost solution to keep the compost piles active and from overheating and would diminish the high cost of having to use fossil fuels to accomplish this task.
Brown’s believe that the quality of the food they raise depends on the quality of the soil on which it is grown or raised. Our belief is that if we have healthy soil it will provide for clean air, clean water, healthy plants, healthy animals, and healthy people.
NCD is accepting RSVP for this event until November 1st. Call the office at 307-334-9957 or email to save your seat. Lunch and the daylong workshop are just $30. Don’t delay, space is filling up quickly!