CCSI Newsletter Sp2019 – Unique Event: Fulton-Pulaski Live Grazing Field DAy

A BIG ask for the Fulton County SWCD resulted a VERY well attended and received field day… and a great launch for a new CCSI staff member.

Even Better:  Local partners invited a local lake management board to a mini-workshop before the main event. Fulton County District Conservationist Dan Rosswurm demonstrated how a healthier soil functions – and how that improved soil health can have positive impacts on water quality.

The BEST– A whole team of Indiana Conservation Partners pulled together to put on a unique, informative, and entertaining field day.
Take a look at the fun we had:

How it came to fruition:

  • Jamie Scott, then IASWCD Board President, reached out to CCSI staff to see if a training or another event could be pulled together at a field owned by Fulton County Commissioner Steve Metzger – a great example of warm season cover crops seeded after wheat.
  • Knowing they had hosted a field day featuring live grazing, CCSI Director Lisa Holscher reached out to Lois Mann with the Fulton County SWCD to see if they were interested in putting something similar together – with the full force of CCSI assistance…. in less than 6 weeks!
  • Holscher later met with Fulton and Pulaski County SWCD staff and supervisors, along with NRCS and ISDA, to lay out a plan – that included Chris Gardner, ISDA, grazing his small herd of cattle and turning them into a fresh paddock.
  • This pre-planning allowed then CCSI Northern Program Manager Trisha McClain to jump in with both feet on assisting with a very successful field day.

During the event:

  • Susannah Hinds, NRCS Grazing Specialist; Mark Keppler, Purdue Extension; Jamie Scott, and Steve Metzger led a discussion talking about various cover crop species and planning for grazing/infrastructure needs.
  • After discussion, the cattle were allowed to graze a new section of cover crops while John Scott, Purdue University flew drone footage.
  • Attendees later walked the plots, observing how the cattle selected different species to eat first and how the cover crops were trampled, creating a protective matt to the soil – and that would later break down to feed soil organisms.
  • Other fun features – wood-fired pizza bus for supper… and a goat tractor!

What attendees experienced:

  • 15-way cover crop mix seeded after wheat harvest
  • Multiple paddocks that had been grazed over the month of September in 2 and 4 day rotations
  • Impacts on soil health indicators from cover crops and grazing
  • And the coolest – a live turn-out of beef cattle into a paddock. Watching them select which cover crops to strip and eat first. And cover crops to be up to the cow’s eyeballs!

What attendees learned:

  • How to select and establish cover crop species for grazing
  • How to use cover crops after wheat or silage to extend forages
  • Benefits of cover crops and rotational grazing