Taking grazing-management tips from Mother Nature

A Handbook for Ranch Managers Gabe Brown says his success in cover  cropping has come through 
observing and mimicking nature’s processes

North Dakota producer, Gabe Brown spoke on cover crops and soil health strategies at the Ducks Unlimited grazing club event  in Lenore on April 6.
North Dakota producer, Gabe Brown spoke on cover crops and soil health strategies at the Ducks Unlimited grazing club event in Lenore on April 6. Photo: Jennifer PaigePlanned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference Manual

North Dakota farmer and cover crop and soil health expert Gabe Brown says if farmers give the techniques he advocates an honest try they’ll be hooked.

Gabe Brown

“Take one field and promise yourself that for five years you will focus on the principles of soil health,” said Brown. If you stick with it for those five years, you will be so amazed at the change in that soil. You’ll become sold on these techniques.”Environmental & Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian View

Brown spoke to a full house at a Ducks Unlimited grazing club event at the Lenore community hall April 6. He said soil health is the top priority on his farm east of Bismarck, North Dakota. He practises holistic management, no till, diverse cropping strategies and rotational grazing.

Combat Shooter's Handbook Reconnaissance Marine MCI 03.32f: Marine Corps Institute The Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other Misfits“Farming is so much more enjoyable when we can solve problems for good as opposed to Band-Aid solutions that cost us money and don’t last,” said Brown.

The Essence of Liberty: Volume I: Liberty and History: The Rise and Fall of the Noble Experiment with Constitutionally Limited Government (Liberty and ... Limited Government) (Volume 1)  The Essence of Liberty: Volume II: The Economics of Liberty (Volume 2) The Essence of Liberty: Volume III: A Universal Philosophy of Political Economy (Liberty: A Universal Political Ethic) (Volume 3) Over the past 20 years on 5,000 acres of leased and owned land, Brown has transformed what he describes as severely degraded soil into soil that is organically dense and full of microbial activity.

This transformation has reduced his dependence on chemicals, reduced erosion and compaction issues and increased water absorption.

“I have completely eliminated the use of synthetic fertilizers, fungicides, and pesticides and do not use GMO or glyphosate. I prefer signing the back of the cheque instead of the front,” Brown said.

He began exploring holistic management and soil health as a way to financially survive after four dismal crop years.

“We went through four years of hail and drought and I lost four crops in a row. The bank wouldn’t lend me money to buy any inputs. At the time, I was also doing some rotational grazing and seeing some benefits to my native rangeland. I really just started observing that system and it all came about from that.”

Look to nature

Brown explains that the premise of his practices are simply mimicking nature and looking at how the soil was created and maintained before it became degraded by conventional agriculture.

“Think of how our soils were developed over eons of time. In the central plains that Manitoba is a part of, there were large herds of bison and elk that wolves were moving,” he said. “They would graze an area and then they wouldn’t come back for a long time. In essence it was high-density grazing, followed by long periods of recovery.”

cattle grazing

photo: Wendy Dudley

He described how the plant community on those prairie soils had tremendous amounts of diversity that continually collected sunlight.

“That sunlight collection pumped carbon down into the soil to create this healthy soil ecosystem that was sustainable. What we have done is come in and destroyed that,” Brown said. “All I am doing now is trying to mimic nature and return our soils to a less degraded state.”

For those starting out with new management practices, Brown says the most important this is to keep an open mind and don’t be afraid of trial and error.

“People just need to be open minded and they will find things that work. The best place to start is to just look at nature,” he said. “Study how soil functions, mimic nature and then try and fit aspects of that into your operation.”

In terms of his own success, he says attending field tours and learning from those who are having success with desired production methods has made all the difference.

“We are all busy but I am never too busy to stop and go on a tour because I know I am going to pick something up,” he said.

Brown told attendees the DU grazing club events and grazing clubs co-ordinator Michael Thiele’s work promoting the concept and organizing events was especially praiseworthy.

Environmental & Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian View

edited by

Dr Jimmy T (Gunny) LaBaume

Is now available in both PAPERBACK and Kindle

BookCoverImageMurray N. Rothbard was the father of what some call Radical Libertarianism or Anarcho-Capitalism which Hans-Hermann Hoppe described as “Rothbard’s unique contribution to the rediscovery of property and property rights as the common foundation of both economics and political philosophy, and the systematic reconstruction and conceptual integration of modern, marginalist economics and natural-law political philosophy into a unified moral science: libertarianism.”

This book applies the principles of this “unified moral science” to environmental and natural resource management issues.

The book started out life as an assigned reading list for a university level course entitled Environmental and Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian View.

As I began to prepare to teach the course, I quickly saw that there was a plethora of textbooks suitable for universal level courses dealing with environmental and natural resource economics. The only problem was that they were all based in mainstream neo-classical (or Keynesian) theory. I could find no single collection of material comprising a comprehensive treatment of environmental and natural resource economics based on Austrian Economic Theory.

However, I was able to find a large number of essays, monographs, papers delivered at professional meetings and published from a multitude of sources. This book is the result. It is composed of a collection of research reports and essays by reputable scientists, economists, and legal experts as well as private property and free market activists.

The book is organized into seven parts: I. Environmentalism: The New State Religion; II. The New State Religion Debunked; III. Introduction to Environmental and Natural Resource Economics; IV. Interventionism: Law and Regulation; V. Pollution and Recycling; VI. Property Rights: Planning, Zoning and Eminent Domain; and VII. Free Market Conservation. It also includes an elaborate Bibliography, References and Recommended Reading section including an extensive Annotated Bibliography of related and works on the subject.

The intellectual level of the individual works ranges from quite scholarly to informed editorial opinion.

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About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
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