Landowners need to be Responsible For Soil Health | TheFencePost.com

Landowners need to be Responsible For Soil Health

Gayle Smith
Gering, Neb.

Courtesy PhotoSkim grazing on the Neil Dennis operation. The left side of this pasture was 40 percent grazed, while the pasture on the right was 80 percent grazed. Dennis explains that grazing a pasture 40 percent will allow much faster regrowth because removing 80 percent of the leaves from the plants will stop root growth for 12 days.

“The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself,” Franklin Roosevelt once said. It was a message that was driven home recently by Neil Dennis of Sunnybrae Farms of Saskatchewan, Canada. Dennis was one of the featured speakers during the 10th Annual Nebraska Grazing Conference in Kearney, Neb.

During his presentation, Dennis spoke of his efforts to build soil health on his own livestock operation by using high stock density grazing.

The family operation Dennis now manages was homesteaded by his family in the 1800s. “All my ancestry did a superb job of looking after the animals, but no one ever looked into taking care of the land,” he explained.

Dennis decided to increase the amount of grazing he had available for his cattle by starting a rotational grazing program on his operation in 1989. Looking for more knowledge on how to further improve his program, he signed up for a HRM class with Leonard Piggott in January 1998, followed by classes with Don Campbell in 2003, Ian Mitchell-Innes in 2007, and Terry Gompert in 2009 and 2010.

Dennis told a group of over 300 people at the conference that learning doesn’t stop with the first class. “I recommend to people that they take as many classes as they can, and they take them from different people because everyone has different ideas and perspectives,” he explained.

Some of the ideas he learned through these courses have been successful for Dennis, while others weren’t so successful. However, when he decided to try a new idea, he would only test it on 10 acres of land, so if the idea didn’t work, it wouldn’t become a setback for the entire farm. Along with the courses, Dennis also studied the seasons, so he could determine how grass best grew on his farm.

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Dennis said one of the most important things he has learned over the years is how important it is to take care of the microorganisms that live in the soil. If the microorganisms are abundant, it will generate more root growth making for more and healthier plants and, ultimately, more grazing for livestock. “I have found out through the years how important it is to allow plant growth to recover after grazing,” he explained. “Recovery and rest are two different things. We need to let the roots of the plants recover after grazing so there will be regrowth,” he explained.

“The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself,” Franklin Roosevelt once said. It was a message that was driven home recently by Neil Dennis of Sunnybrae Farms of Saskatchewan, Canada. Dennis was one of the featured speakers during the 10th Annual Nebraska Grazing Conference in Kearney, Neb.

During his presentation, Dennis spoke of his efforts to build soil health on his own livestock operation by using high stock density grazing.

The family operation Dennis now manages was homesteaded by his family in the 1800s. “All my ancestry did a superb job of looking after the animals, but no one ever looked into taking care of the land,” he explained.

Dennis decided to increase the amount of grazing he had available for his cattle by starting a rotational grazing program on his operation in 1989. Looking for more knowledge on how to further improve his program, he signed up for a HRM class with Leonard Piggott in January 1998, followed by classes with Don Campbell in 2003, Ian Mitchell-Innes in 2007, and Terry Gompert in 2009 and 2010.

Dennis told a group of over 300 people at the conference that learning doesn’t stop with the first class. “I recommend to people that they take as many classes as they can, and they take them from different people because everyone has different ideas and perspectives,” he explained.

Some of the ideas he learned through these courses have been successful for Dennis, while others weren’t so successful. However, when he decided to try a new idea, he would only test it on 10 acres of land, so if the idea didn’t work, it wouldn’t become a setback for the entire farm. Along with the courses, Dennis also studied the seasons, so he could determine how grass best grew on his farm.

Dennis said one of the most important things he has learned over the years is how important it is to take care of the microorganisms that live in the soil. If the microorganisms are abundant, it will generate more root growth making for more and healthier plants and, ultimately, more grazing for livestock. “I have found out through the years how important it is to allow plant growth to recover after grazing,” he explained. “Recovery and rest are two different things. We need to let the roots of the plants recover after grazing so there will be regrowth,” he explained.

“The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself,” Franklin Roosevelt once said. It was a message that was driven home recently by Neil Dennis of Sunnybrae Farms of Saskatchewan, Canada. Dennis was one of the featured speakers during the 10th Annual Nebraska Grazing Conference in Kearney, Neb.

During his presentation, Dennis spoke of his efforts to build soil health on his own livestock operation by using high stock density grazing.

The family operation Dennis now manages was homesteaded by his family in the 1800s. “All my ancestry did a superb job of looking after the animals, but no one ever looked into taking care of the land,” he explained.

Dennis decided to increase the amount of grazing he had available for his cattle by starting a rotational grazing program on his operation in 1989. Looking for more knowledge on how to further improve his program, he signed up for a HRM class with Leonard Piggott in January 1998, followed by classes with Don Campbell in 2003, Ian Mitchell-Innes in 2007, and Terry Gompert in 2009 and 2010.

Dennis told a group of over 300 people at the conference that learning doesn’t stop with the first class. “I recommend to people that they take as many classes as they can, and they take them from different people because everyone has different ideas and perspectives,” he explained.

Some of the ideas he learned through these courses have been successful for Dennis, while others weren’t so successful. However, when he decided to try a new idea, he would only test it on 10 acres of land, so if the idea didn’t work, it wouldn’t become a setback for the entire farm. Along with the courses, Dennis also studied the seasons, so he could determine how grass best grew on his farm.

Dennis said one of the most important things he has learned over the years is how important it is to take care of the microorganisms that live in the soil. If the microorganisms are abundant, it will generate more root growth making for more and healthier plants and, ultimately, more grazing for livestock. “I have found out through the years how important it is to allow plant growth to recover after grazing,” he explained. “Recovery and rest are two different things. We need to let the roots of the plants recover after grazing so there will be regrowth,” he explained.

“The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself,” Franklin Roosevelt once said. It was a message that was driven home recently by Neil Dennis of Sunnybrae Farms of Saskatchewan, Canada. Dennis was one of the featured speakers during the 10th Annual Nebraska Grazing Conference in Kearney, Neb.

During his presentation, Dennis spoke of his efforts to build soil health on his own livestock operation by using high stock density grazing.

The family operation Dennis now manages was homesteaded by his family in the 1800s. “All my ancestry did a superb job of looking after the animals, but no one ever looked into taking care of the land,” he explained.

Dennis decided to increase the amount of grazing he had available for his cattle by starting a rotational grazing program on his operation in 1989. Looking for more knowledge on how to further improve his program, he signed up for a HRM class with Leonard Piggott in January 1998, followed by classes with Don Campbell in 2003, Ian Mitchell-Innes in 2007, and Terry Gompert in 2009 and 2010.

Dennis told a group of over 300 people at the conference that learning doesn’t stop with the first class. “I recommend to people that they take as many classes as they can, and they take them from different people because everyone has different ideas and perspectives,” he explained.

Some of the ideas he learned through these courses have been successful for Dennis, while others weren’t so successful. However, when he decided to try a new idea, he would only test it on 10 acres of land, so if the idea didn’t work, it wouldn’t become a setback for the entire farm. Along with the courses, Dennis also studied the seasons, so he could determine how grass best grew on his farm.

Dennis said one of the most important things he has learned over the years is how important it is to take care of the microorganisms that live in the soil. If the microorganisms are abundant, it will generate more root growth making for more and healthier plants and, ultimately, more grazing for livestock. “I have found out through the years how important it is to allow plant growth to recover after grazing,” he explained. “Recovery and rest are two different things. We need to let the roots of the plants recover after grazing so there will be regrowth,” he explained.