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Grazed Out: Richard Duncan Experiences Mob Grazing, Prescribed Fire as an Ag Scholar

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Grazed out: that’s what the pasture and the summer internship looks like. The mob grazing project finished up back in July, and I will wrap up my summer as a Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture two days from now. So much has happened this summer. I have been pushed to the limits professionally and personally, and I have gained so much valuable experience that I could not have gained anywhere else.

grazing projectHeifers graze as part of the mob grazing project.

There were a few highlights of the summer that were especially exciting for me. My project was one of them. I was sad to see my project conclude. I enjoyed spending time every morning and evening in the field with the heifers and caring for them each day. Caring for livestock is my favorite part of working in agriculture. Some of the heifers I was charged with managing this summer lost weight during the project, and some of them gained weight. I learned how management can affect how an animal responds to grazing. This project has been incredibly insightful and beneficial for my career.

I also went with consultants on a number of farm visits, including visits to my parents’ property and to my in-laws’ as well. I got to see how consultants interact with producers and make recommendations. It is an understatement to say that the consultants here at Noble truly care for these producers and their natural resources and livestock. They care about these operations as if they were the owners, always looking for ways to make the land more profitable and the practices more sustainable.

On one farm visit, I was able to assist with a prescribed fire to manage brush overgrowth in a pasture. I had never been around a prescribed burn before, and I was able to run a drip torch and a spray rig to manage the fire. It was pretty awesome.

aerial burn of prescribed burnAn aerial image shows a 290-acre pasture following a prescribed burn.

This summer has been incredible. This internship has been exactly the jumpstart I needed for my career. I am excited to see where the next steps in my career lead me, but I will never forget this summer at the Noble Research Institute.

Richard Duncan is a 2019 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture.