Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Quality Pasture" :: Chapters 1 & 2 Book Report

I received my copy of Quality Pasture by Allan Nation (editor of The Stockman Grass Farmer) last week and have finally had a chance to read the first two chapters. It has been a pretty interesting read, but I have really come away with two points.

Point #1: Recently I have read a few books by Joel Salatin, Carol Ekarius, and Gene Logsdon all relating to pasture raising beef and other livestock. It seems that they all quote each other and other important figures in grass farming like Andre Voisin, but they all have different approaches to obtaining high forage pastures. I would say that Mr. Salatin probably believes less in inputs and more in letting the animals along with the natural work of nature do a lot of the work in creating quality pasture. Next, I think Mrs. Ekarius kind of tries to hit the balance there between the "natural" work and human manipulation through adding things to the pasture (fertilizers, etc.). Possibly I would put Mr. Logsdon third as he seems to be very interested in trying different foraging types on different paddocks in order to obtain the longest pasture season and a high quality. And, finally I would say (according to the first two chapters) that Mr. Nation has a high regard for adding things to the soil and the pasture to make them the most productive. It is interesting to read such a wide range of thoughts, but realize that they are all preaching the same sort of thing ... ruminents can be raised solely on pasture and at a lower cost of money.

Point #2: After reading the first two chapters I realized that I'm not very smart! I don't know very much about microbes, nitrogen, potassium, blah, blah, blah...! It seems like I will have to read this book a few times and then do some outside research to really understand it, but that also seems like a good thing. Like so many things in farming (putting up hay, plowing a straight line, etc.) creating a quality pasture is an art. And, since it is an art it is going to take knowledge, thinking, and creativity. These first two chapters have really piqued my interest and also made me think more about taking some Agriculture classes from ISU if I continue my Bachelor of Liberal Studies program.

All-in-all I'm glad that I picked up this book and I look forward to reading more. It has really given me a glimpse into the depth of creating pasture. Also, even in these first two chapters I am thinking about things we can do on my dad's farm to increase the quality and productivity (I'm going to be looking into winter rye...).

I'll try and post an update to my reading every chapter or two, so check back if you are interested.

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