Ranch Musings: No-till pasture rejuvenation and sivopasture trials

Ranch Musings: No-till pasture rejuvenation and sivopasture trials

Columnist David Zirnhelt is hosting a field day Aug. 29 in Beaver Valley

Field days are opportunities for producers to join with other interested farmers and ranchers to see what is happening on the land. Professionals working in agriculture are the resource people, along with the producers who are conducting the on the ground work.

You can read about on-farm research, but seeing it and discussing it with others is a much better way to understand the subject matter.

The Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Williams Lake, in collaboration with the BC Forage Council and the Ministry of Agriculture, will be holding one of these events on Aug. 29 at our place in Beaver Valley.

If you want to find out about either of these topics and about on-farm research trials which students in the university program are planning, I recommend that you attend.

Here is the contact information. The organizers need to know who is coming because of the lunch planning.

Contact the BCFC at 250-564-4115 ext. 233 or bcfc@bcforagecouncil.com.

The field day will take place Aug. 29 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Zirnhelt Ranch at 5455 Jacobson Rd. off the Likely Road and past Big Lake, one hour from McLeese Lake if you come from the north and one hour from Williams Lake of you come from the south.

What will you see? You will see the early results of using a no-till seed drill to plant some commonly-used pasture and hay plants and some new plants into an old hayfield that is well beyond its best in terms of productivity.

In order to address the issue of competition by the older plants with the newly-seeded plants, the trial plot was grazed heavily twice, just before planting and four days after, just before emergence of the new seedlings.

It is the competition by the older plants that has established the practice of spraying herbicide to kill the old stand. This trial did not use herbicide. Recently, in the Kootenays, some trials have used this method successfully.

Because old alfalfa can kill new alfalfa plants, several varieties (including yellow alfalfa) were planted and a different legume, Sanfoin, was added.

The second (silvopasture) demonstration will showcase a logged-off area that was regenerating shrubs, forbs and trees.

The current management plan calls for the use of intensive grazing using electric fence and targeting certain areas needing reduction of the shrubs and trees to maintain pasture for cattle.

Late winter bale grazing, i.e. placing hay bales on top of dense brush and late fall grazing, has been used to enhance the livestock pasture component. Extended grazing periods can reduce the amount of hay needed for wintering cows.

This silvopasture (growing trees and grazing plants) demonstration has been supported by the Ministry of Agriculture as part of a suite of trials around the province.

We would love to host you if you can make the time for us to share with you. You may be able to share with us your experiences.

The TRU students are being encouraged to add a little science to experimentation for purposes of advancing their and other’s knowledge.

There will be experts attending, so come on out to help make their time worthwhile.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake.

READ MORE: Ranch Musings: The cost of information

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