Workshop shares principles of healthy soil in ranching
Methane from cow burps is the front-line culprit contributing to agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, as opposed to the popular theory that the other end of the cow is the problem. Learn more about some common myths and an upcoming workshop offering sustainable grazing and management tips:
Three Springs Land and Livestock, the Utah Department of Agriculture, and the Kamas Valley Conservation District will host the workshop Saturday morning to share soil health principles.
Mitch Dumke is a partner in the ranching and livestock operation. He said their practices can improve the ability for ranchers to earn a living wage.
Dumke said he spends a lot of time in close contact with cows, and their smells are gnarly. However, he noted that ecologically, controlling soil health offsets carbon emissions.
“It’s a natural part of the animal cycle to emit that methane. It is one part of the emissions. We like the cow farts, but the burps are the real culprit. And then, ecologically, we can be building our soil health. There's sometimes a narrative about how we are killing topsoil. Our animals are emitting too much carbon and pollution. And so, we actually believe that there are ways that that can be sustainable, if not regenerative, meaning improving over time.”
Dumke said grasslands sequester carbon more efficiently than trees because grasses grow so fast. Grasses capture carbon through photosynthesis and transfer it into root systems and back into the ground. Animals exhale CO2 as a gas.
“So, as we think about our grazing practices, when we graze some grassland and allow it to rest in the same year, that grass can fully grow again. We're trying to get the grass to grow multiple times in the same season, so you're sequestering grass multiple times a year.”
3 Springs pastureland in Peoa will be used to demonstrate soil health techniques during the workshop. Tony Richards with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food Soil Health Partnership will discuss extending the grazing season during the drought. Using a rain simulator, he'll show what happens when an inch of rain falls over a short time.
“How much rain sheets off the top of the surface, and how much rain infiltrates through the soil system. And so, it's one of the most impactful ways I've seen to be able to demonstrate that how you manage land and what's in your land can actually make a huge impact in terms of how that water is retained immediately and, over time.”
Dumke said similar principles for healthy soil might apply to the average homeowner. However, the workshop will focus more on livestock and grazing animals. The Healthy Soils Workshop is Saturday, June 18, at 4300 Woodenshoe Lane in Peoa. It’s free and starts at 9 A.M.