Grazing Demo Ronnie Nuckols
The grazing demonstration hosted at Ronnie Nuckols Farm as part of the Conservation Innovation Grant between VFGC and USDA-NRCS is now complete. The detailed case study summary report titled: Using Annual Forages and Improved Grazing Management to Build Soil Health and Improve System Performance, is available for download as a PDF document below.
This report details how Ronnie collaborated with VFGC, the Monacan SWCD, USDA-NRCS and industry seed suppliers to demonstrate and evaluate the use of winter annual forage mixes to provide high quality forage for his grazing livestock to extend his grazing season late into the fall and begin grazing earlier in the spring while implementing the four main soil health building principles.
This demonstration project created the opportunity for farmers to visit his farm at 2 separate field meetings to see the fall and spring growth potential of these forage mixes. These field meetings were used to improve awareness of these alternative forages and specifically how they were used to benefit his production system while protecting and enhancing the soil system.
The spring field meeting was a combined pubic outreach and training event for agricultural service providers and conservationists with a total of 200 people attending. A short video titled, From the Ground Up: Building Soil Health Partnerships in Virginia, highlights how this event was used for building awareness and understanding of soil health principles and is available on YouTube at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3WqB4XieOE .
Figures, charts and photos in the case study summary detail the species mixtures used in the demo, how they were managed and grazed in spring and fall, the yield and nutritive value of these mixtures, and the use of nitrogen to enhance both the production and soil building benefits of these annuals. The document concludes on page 10 with a concise list of lessons learned and take home points for any farmer considering the use of annual forages for grazing.
Since starting this project, Mr. Nuckols added more cross fencing and water troughs to improve his base grazing system. He commonly uses temporary electric fencing to manage stocking density for better utilization of the forage and distribution of manure nutrients by the livestock. Hear about Ronnie’s experience, what he learned, and what he plans to do from here by watching his short summary video titled: A Step by Step Approach to Building Pasture Productivity and Soil Health, hosted on the VFGC website under the Resources and Videos tabs or found on YouTube.
The project concluded with a producer presentation of the project at the 2018 Winter Conference Series meeting at the Olde Dominion Agricultural Complex in Chatham, VA with 100 peers in attendance. This grazing demonstration provided a great learning experience for everyone involved in this collaborative effort and would not have been possible without the USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant Program.
After reading the case study summary and watching the linked videos, if you have additional questions about the project, you can contact JB Daniel, USDA-NRCS Grassland Agronomist at 434-392-4171 x115 or firstname.lastname@example.org.