Last weekend, for the 5th year in a row, we attended the awesome Food and Farm Forum put on by Valley Food Partnership in Montrose Colorado. This year’s theme was Healthy Land, Food, People. Right up our alley!
We spent Friday afternoon with Greg Judy of Green Pastures Farm in Missouri. He is a leader in in implementing High Density Planned Grazing (mob grazing/regenerative grazing). At Parker Pastures, we believe in and are achieving his main point:
Livestock alone can heal land and build soils. It DOES take proper management to achieve this.
Greg began his workshop stating, “We are NOT grass-farmers, we are MICROBE FARMERS!.”
The frontier of soil science has revealed that soil is ALIVE!!! and it is is teaching humans rapidly that we need to feed the microbes in the soil who in turn feed the plants which feed the animals. The best way to feed them in our business is to graze the top 1/3 of a plant and trample the bottom 2/3. The trampled forage protects and feeds the microbes!
Did you know that in 1 tsp of HEALTHY soil there should be 1 billion living organisms?!!! This diagram gives us a glimpse of the critters that should be in our soils.
I find MYCORRHIZAL FUNGI most fascinating: They are beneficial fungi that colonize on plant roots and serve as a nutrient pipeline into the host plant. Not only do the mycorrhizae absorb water and mineral elements (phosphorus being a key one), they also break down other potential plant nutrients and funnel them to plant roots.
And get this, they COMMUNICATE with the plant and TRADE for nutrients. Symbiosis my friends, is nature’s way.
Sadly, over the past 100 years or so, human management on farms and ranches has KILLED the soil microbiology (overgrazing, over-resting, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, fungacides, etc).
And the good news? Ranchers and farmers are bringing soils BACK TO LIFE!!