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Ask the Expert: How Do I Get Started on Improving My Land?

Jeff Goodwin shares advice from more than 15 years of working with ranchers and other land managers.

By Jeff Goodwin
Conservation Stewardship Leader and Senior Pasture and Range Consultant

Posted Dec. 30, 2019

Know that this is going to be a journey. The land didn’t get degraded overnight, so it won’t come back overnight. It takes time, persistence and management. However, it doesn’t take as much time as you might think. You’ve got to start somewhere, so don’t be afraid to start small. Just focus on what you can do, and work toward what you want to do. It’s direction over perfection.

For example, your grazing management might start by just shutting a gate or stringing up a few electric fences. You could integrate some other forage species into your bermudagrass and let the cows fertilize it naturally, at no extra cost to you.

You’ve got to start somewhere, so don’t be afraid to start small. Just focus on what you can do, and work toward what you want to do. It’s direction over perfection.

Manage for outcomes you want to see. For example, if want to see big bluestem on the range again, know that it is highly dependent on mychorizial fungi. When you don’t have the fungi, you won’t have the grass. To attract the fungus, you’ll need to provide diverse root systems in the ground year-round and manage your grazing with rotations that allow for rest periods.

You’re not going to see change if you’re not managing for that particular change, so set your goals and do what you can to work toward them. Understand that we want to optimize production instead of maximizing it. That will allow us to optimize other important things, like soil and water quality.

And don’t give up. Talk to others who are on the journey, and know that moving in the right direction is a success.

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