Multispecies rotational grazing maximizes soil fertility and health

Joel Salatin at Polyface Farm

Joel Salatin at Polyface Farm (photo shown in Joel’s presentation)

Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm (polyfacefarms.com) in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley recommends rotational grazing to caress soils and confuse pathogens. The Salatins delight in diversity and prefer portable, flexible animal infrastructure. They blend and rotate livestock and pasture species to puzzle pests. Soils rest between rotation cycles to nurture nutrients and to break pest and pathogen patterns.

For centuries farmers have understood that animal manures return vital nutrients to crop fields. Many farmers pull mechanical spreaders behind fossil fuel-burning tractors to move manure into fields. At Polyface farm, livestock spread their own manure.

Rotational or mob grazing simulates large herds of bison grazing and moving across the American prairies. Well managed grazing concentrates livestock in one area for a short period and then move them on. At Polyface farm, portable electric fences contain grazing beef herds. Farmers move the fences and livestock daily. Salatin said his animals look forward to a fresh “salad bar” every morning. These cattle graze forage at a sustainable level. They trample their manure patties ensuring good soil contact and starting the decomposition process. [Read more here.]

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About Sanne Kure-Jensen

Sanne Kure-Jensen is a frequent contributor to Country Folks, Country Folks Grower and Wine & Grape Grower bringing regional and national attention to agriculture in RI and across southern New England. She has also written for newsletters of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), Holistic Management International (HMI), RI Beekeepers Association and RI Tree Council. Read Sanne’s work at her Sustainable Living page at examiner.com. Sanne has written successful grant applications for alternative energy projects, staff and board training, products and services. Clients include agricultural businesses, farm stand/markets and non-profit organizations. Recent successful grant projects include a $90,000 USDA Rural Development‘s Rural Energy For America Program (REAP), $10,000 Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Farmer and $20,000 Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG). Sanne is the part-time Administrator for NOFA/RI, a Rhode Island Certified Horticulturist and beekeeper. She is a NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professional and has lectured across southern New England on Beekeeping, Native Pollinators and Ecological Landscape Design. Learn more about the NOFA’s Land Care programs or contact Sanne for a garden consultation through the NOFA/RI website.
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