Seed Catalogs For Graziers

Everyone has a way to pass winter afternoon, lots of folks used to scan seed catalogs. If you can imagine a better future, you can make those dreams come true. That’s what people did with those seed catalogs; dream- then plan to get more from the land.

If you are a farmer, you are like those gardeners reading the seed catalog only on a much larger scale. A farmer wants to do more with the land. His livelihood depends on top production from every acre. I found the equivalent of the seed catalog in the list of enhancements I found in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) at through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS.)

The CSP program can help you improve your yields, develop some wildlife area or make your grazing more productive. I am a participant in the CSP program and really believe in it. I used CSP to improve grazing and help out the local wildlife.

Two of my CSP practices include prescribed grazing and escapements for my water troughs. Prescribed grazing is just basically how I manage the cattle as they eat my grass and legume mix. Our pasture is fenced into 4-acre paddocks. I allow the cattle into each paddock for long enough to eat whatever forage exists down to about 4-6 inches. By doing this, the cattle eat the top part of the plant which is the most nutritious part of the plant and get the most gain. There’s also enough left of the plant to gather adequate sunshine for fast regrowth. The plant you see above the ground is mirrored by the roots underneath the ground. When cattle eat several inches of growth above-ground, the same amount dies off underground. The dead roots slowly release nitrogen and leave an empty space in the soil as they die off. This leaves open space underground which makes the soil hold more moisture which is great when the rain quits in late July.

plastic barrel water tank
cattle waterer currently serving about 35 cattle
A second practice I enjoy is water escapements. This is pretty simple, I just make sure that wildlife can stop to get a drink of water from the water tanks without drowning. I love seeing birds and some wildlife around the home place. People talk about feeding animals which is great but what wildlife consistently needs is water. I can move my water tanks any time I need. They are plastic, 55 gallon drums cut in half and secured inside a truck tire. I bolted some treated 2 x 6 boards on the bottom of the tires to create skids. On the inside of the tanks sits a water valve that is controlled by a float. Opposite of the float is a piece of screen fastened to the side of the tank. It looks like one of those cargo nets you see soldiers use to climb up the side of a ship. They work the same too, if some wild animal accidentally falls into the tank while drinking, they can climb out. I also leave a non-treated board in the water in case birds need a place to land to get a quick drink.

It is very satisfying to read a seed catalog, then make plans and see them through to success. I find the same affect when I chose my enhancements and see them through to success. I guess, in the end, we all just want to be good gardeners and stewards of the land.

A good place to learn about CSP is