Ranchers advise ‘don’t reinvent the wheel’ when it comes to conservation | TSLN.com

Ranchers advise ‘don’t reinvent the wheel’ when it comes to conservation

All the ranchers who have been successful at integrating conservation practices into their ranches say the same thing – don’t think you have to reinvent the wheel.

They may say to do your research, to talk to others who have been successful, to go to seminars and schools and to take advantage of the resources that are out there, but they all mean the same thing. You’re not the first to do this, so build on the knowledge and experience of others.

Rancher Jim Faulstich is one of the leaders in conservation in South Dakota. His advice is to stay flexible and to remember that rangeland is a living thing that changes all the time. Management decisions have to reflect those changes.

He says the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is one of the best resources for technical advice and cost-share programs. They work with producers individually to help them make the best choices for their unique situations.

The South Dakota Grasslands Coalition is another resource. The organization recently set up a mentoring program, which provides a list of producers who are willing to help others implement conservation practices. The mentoring program utilizes a brochure that lists producers who have a great deal of experience in certain areas, from goal-setting to cropland aftermath grazing and prescribed burning. Each of the producers listed as a contact in the program has proven success in the areas they agreed to be listed under and wants to share what they’ve learned.

Faulstich is one of those listed as a resource in several categories. He says it’s important to not be afraid to think differently, to try something new and to fail. “No one has been successful at everything they’ve attempted. But we’re all here to help each other out when we get stuck. You may think you’re the first person who’s thought of something or had some problem, but when you start asking around, you’re bound to find someone who’s got some experience with it,” Faulstich says.

The most important thing, Faulstich emphasizes, is to make sure your management techniques are what’s best for your operation. A management plan has to be customized, because no two sections are the same and no two producers have the same goals or abilities. That’s when individual consultations with NRCS and other agencies and more experienced people can be invaluable, Faulstich says.

In the ranching and conservation community, most agree that the NRCS and South Dakota Grasslands coalition are good places to start. Either can get producers started down the road to more productive land management.

editor’s note: to learn more about the south dakota grasslands coalition visit, http://www.sdgrass.org, or contact kyle schell, range management outreach coordinator at 605-688-6623 or kyle.schell@sdstate.edu; or justin “judge” jessop, grasslands team, at 605-280-0127 or jjessop@sdconservation.org. learn more about nrcs programs at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/home.

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