New tool helps dairy farmers explore the economics of grazing dairy heifers

The latest news from the Grassland 2.0 team on grassland-based agriculture and sustainable agriculture.

New tool helps dairy farmers explore the economics of grazing dairy heifers

To graze or not to graze? The newly debuted Heifer Grazing Compass is a spreadsheet tool designed to help farmers predict and understand the cash flow and long-term financial outcomes of deciding to raise heifers on pasture. Developed by the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems of CIAS and Grassland 2.0, the Heifer Grazing Compass compares the total economic implications of a farmer’s existing system with a potential pasture-based heifer raising system.

Cattle and Brookies: Making Modern Agriculture and Trout Habitat in Wisconsin

Some 10,000 years ago, glaciers from the last Ice Age were retreating from the Upper Midwest. While much of Wisconsin was scraped into the rolling landscape that is representative of much of the state, a roughly 24,000 square mile piece of land at the intersection of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, was left untouched by continental glaciers. Broad ridge tops with shallow soil, river-formed valleys, and steep, craggy ravines make the Driftless area a geological anomaly. For millennia, this was a fertile Brook Trout habitat but in an evolutionary blink of an eye, these waters became threatened by modern agriculture. Across this region of sandstone and dolomitic limestone bedrock, there is more than 6,000 miles of trout water, with about 1300 miles of public access. But the health of these waters continue to compete with agriculture to survive. 

U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard incentivizes land use change with environmental consequences

In order to address global climate change, the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) aims to increase the use of biofuel in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to a new study by Tyler Lark of UW-Madison and co-authors, including several members of Grassland 2.0, the RFS may have missed the mark in reducing emissions – in fact, the greenhouse gases produced consequentially negate any advantages of corn ethanol over gasoline. Why? The RFS policy makers did not predict the full-scale impacts of the land use change that would result from its implementation – mainly more corn and less pasture.

Creating a grazing movement in Sauk County

Serge Koenig has been serving Sauk County, Wisconsin as a county conservationist for the past 27 years. So, needless to say – he knows the community well. During his tenure he has helped a lot of farmers get back in touch with nature and rediscover why they farm. Koenig’s journey in conservation started in Madagascar where he grew up, where he says he basically lived outside.

GrassWorks: A place where working dogs (and their humans) belong

Exactly when dogs and humans started hanging around together is a matter of debate, but it’s been a good long time. Scientists suggest that ancestral wolves were likely the first animals to be domesticated by early humans, some 10,000 to 30,000 years ago. And what was those first dogs’ primary job? Herding! On grasslands around the world, wild ruminants were a food source for humans and wolves. As hunting partners, ancestral wolf-dogs’ herding abilities and hunter-gatherers’ hunting tools and skills benefited both. Domestication of ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats) came later with the help of those same herding dogs.

New podcast episode features poetry discussing the changes in dairying over the last 50 years

This fall Grassland 2.0 hosted a four-part Digital Dialogue webinar series exploring the question of “What are healthy agroecosystems?”. The dialogues were hour and a half long conversations with farmers, researchers, and agricultural professionals who each explored the different aspects that make up a healthy agroecosystems and the benefits these systems have on people, farms, communities and the land.

Introducing Grassland 2.0’s Digital Dialogue Series

This fall Grassland 2.0 is hosting a 4-part Digital Dialogue focusing on the question – What are healthy agroecosystems? The series will explore the different aspects that make up a healthy agroecosystems and the benefits these systems have on people, farms, communities and the land.

Grassland 2.0 and partners receives grant to understand opportunities and barriers related to integrating livestock and crop production

Diversified crop and livestock systems offer some of the best options for getting more continuous living cover on the landscape. Incorporation of forage crops and well-managed pasture into crop rotations is key to achieving the economic and environmental outcomes. In recent decades, specialization has been a dominant trend in the upper Midwest. Now that is changing, and there is increasing interest in re-integrating livestock into annual cropping systems.

Caring for the land is caring for ourselves: A deeper look at care work

Growing up in a small town in Kansas, where my parents still farm wheat and raise cattle, I understood that humans are social beings who need each other. Only through community effort was it possible to accomplish education in the school system, religious practice through the church, the economic realities of agricultural labor from planting to harvest.

Marie Raboin shares the importance of farmer dates in new GrassCast podcast episode

Marie Raboin is a Conservation Specialist for Dane County, Wisconsin. She has spent over a decade working in and around southern Wisconsin to get farmers to adopt conservation practices. She currently serves as an advisor on the Grassland 2.0 project, and this summer she sat down for an interview with GrassCast, the Grassland 2.0 podcast.