Meetings scheduled in western South Dakota April 2-5 to help producers make decisions in coming year | TSLN.com

Meetings scheduled in western South Dakota April 2-5 to help producers make decisions in coming year

Alvaro Garcia
SDSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Director & Professor

Todd and Cheryl Ochsner, together with their five children, have been farming Concord Farms in eastern South Dakota for generations.

"In order to improve our soil's organic matter, we plant cover crops behind a crop of spring wheat. A combination of radishes, turnips for deep tillage to break up compaction and install organic matter, along with oats for carbon, crimson clover and flax for natural nitrogen building for the next crop while eliminating a lot of fungicide and pesticide application most farms require," Todd said. "Our method of sustaining and improving organic matter has been to turn a productive grain field back to how the prairie was and let mother nature do the work just like what has been done for millions of years."

The Ochsners have embraced the concept of soil health as a key component of their beef production enterprise.

Their double cropping of cover crops behind a crop of spring wheat improves the soil organic matter. A combination of several other plants provide not only for an optimum balance for the grazing animal but also improves the structure of the soil by breaking up the compaction.

Their philosophy and approach to grazing are an example to follow. It does not really matter if the operation is grassfed beef or a cow-calf operation, an adequate management of the cattle/pasture interface is still critical.

As spring pasture turnout approaches, drought conditions remain across regions of western South Dakota, combined with low commodity markets, many producers are facing reduced incomes. An SDSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources team of experts will be available in several locations in western South Dakota throughout the week of April 2, 2018 to provide producers tools and management tips they can use to proactively make decisions to optimize cattle stocking rates.

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The seminar, Decision Making 2018: Grazing and Finance Planning For Agriculture Operations, will provide producers with tools to create grazing plans, which may include destocking, if dry weather conditions continue.

Speakers will include: Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension State Climatologist – weather update and outlook; Dave Ollila, SDSU Extension Sheep Field Specialist – grazing and forage tools to evaluate spring turnout and expected grass production; Heather Gessner, SDSU Extension Livestock Business Management Field Specialist – finances: creating production and personal budgets, as well as working with bankers.

All are invited. There is no registration. This event is available at no cost. The meetings will run for two hours, with additional SDSU Extension staff on hand to answer questions. Come as you are. We understand calving and lambing season has begun.