Regenerative Agriculture – Rebuilding Soil with Mob Grazing
Mob grazing is a regenerative agriculture technique that is gaining popularity in the ranching industry. It refers to a short-duration, high-intensity grazing technique that mimics the way herds of wild cattle and bison roam the lands.
Depending how large their herds are, ranchers move their grass-fed cows once to several times a day across their grazing land. Allowing the soil to be trampled, nourished by the muck and droppings, and left to grow back strong impacts the soil in a healthy way.
Many ranchers are finding great benefits from using this technique, including soil health, increased ecosystem diversity, and cost savings. We’re going to look into why mob grazing is growing in popularity and why it is a successful regenerative agriculture technique.
A mob grazing rotation allows the grass-fed cattle to focus on a single section of the pasture for a specific amount of time, then move on to the next, and so on and so forth. Depending on the time of the year and the size of the pasture the mob re-starts the cycle roughly every 60 days. Each section of pasture is ideally a third trampled, a third eaten and a third left to grow by the end of its cycle.
With this practice you’re encouraging bigger root systems, which increase the amount of carbohydrates, proteins and sugars the forage produces. This is achieved by 100,000 pounds worth of stock trampling muck and cow droppings into the earth. With a thicker root system, the earth holds water much more effectively. It also helps to sequester some of the carbon that’s in the atmosphere into the earth.
Your average soil contains 2-3% organic matter. With regenerative grazing you can increase this amount up to 8-9% in as little as 2 to 3 years. This guarantees that the future generations will have fertile soil without having to rely on chemicals and fertilizers.
By creating thicker root systems, you create healthier, more nutrient dense flora. This in turn supports a larger diversity of plants, animals, and insects. With the increased ecosystem diversity, you welcome in a larger habitat for native birds, animals and plants to thrive in.
Not only do you support your eco-system, but you benefit from healthier grass-fed cattle. The wider range of plants that are consumed increases the variety of nutrients introduced into your cattle’s diet. Grass-fed Beef contains up to five times the amount of Omega-3’s than conventional beef.
Reduce Winter Costs
The costs of feeding a herd of cattle is expensive during the winter months. Jason Miller, a farmer in southwest Idaho, introduced a multi-species cover crop forage mix to his farm and combined it with a mob grazing regimen that effectively worked for him.
He planted a cover crop that would germinate in the heat and stay green until they received a deep freeze. He calculated his winter feed costs, to feed 160 cows for 63 days. Each cow ate 30 pounds per day, meaning he would need 151 tons of feed. His hay costs would be $26,460.00. His costs to plant a cover crop forage mix was $2,700. Jason successfully saved $23,760.00 and created healthier soil by combining a cover crop with mob grazing.
The cattle industry takes a lot of blame when it comes to climate change, but if we start to adopt regenerative grazing techniques farmers can reduce their carbon foot print while increasing the fertility of their soil and the bio-diversity of their pastures.
What can you as a consumer do to help support the regenerative agriculture cause? Purchase your proteins from local sources. Purchase Grass-fed, Grass-finished beef from your local rancher. Regenerative agriculture is a team effort.