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Rotational Grazing Expands on the Smart Farm

Rotational grazing practices help on-farm sustainability by enhancing pasture productivity and soil health (and preventing overgrazing) which increases carbon sequestration — leading to potential carbon credits for producers.

The Technology Access Centre for Livestock Production (TACLP) at Olds College of Agriculture & Technology has been conducting great research on the Smart Farm with rotational grazing practices at the Pitstra Farm west of Carstairs, Alta. for a few years, and has seen tremendous benefits to the forage and soil.

The TACLP is currently converting four additional fields on the Smart Farm into five to 10 acre rotational grazing paddocks. Fields 5, 6, 7 and 9 are adjacent to Olds College campus and have been previously used for hay production, but will soon be used to graze cattle. Having rotational grazing areas near campus allows the farm team to walk the cattle to pasture after the winter months in the feedlot instead of having to load and drive them to fields further away. The previously grazed Delong Pastures — close to four kilometers from campus — will be converted into cropland during the 2024 growing season.

campus-rotational-grazing.pngThe TACLP received funding to expand rotational grazing on the Smart Farm through the Resilient Agricultural Landscape Program (RALP) that helps producers implement projects on their land that can provide significant benefits for the producer, the public and future generations. The RALP funding included the infrastructure costs of implementing a rotational grazing plan, cost of seeding perennial stands to incorporate in grazing plan, and multiple watering stations to be moved as the cattle move through the system to minimize soil disturbance.

In this new rotational grazing area, approximately 50 to 70 cattle will rotate multiple times through each paddock during the growing season — which will maximize forage production and stand health. These fields also feature a small riparian area that will be closely monitored and grazed accordingly.

The TACLP will be growing high productivity forage blends and testing innovative on-farm technologies and practices throughout the rotational grazing paddocks near campus — specifically products that have been trialed at the Pitstra Farm but could benefit from improved connectivity near campus and facilities. 

Bringing rotational grazing closer to campus also allows College students to learn more about rotational grazing practices, as well as actively participate in grazing exercises, reclamation activities and riparian area assessments.

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