Holistic grazing management systems, as used at Stone Barns Center, have many benefits to livestock health, biodiversity, and soil health. Over time, these practices will improve pasture quality, plant density, plant diversity, and soils, which will lead to a healthier and more productive flerd (flock + herd). You can learn more about our rotational grazing practices here.
Understanding the plant species that are in the pasture will assist with management decisions. Different grasses have different growth patterns and root architecture that will respond differently to management practices. Taking accurate inventory of our pastures will allow us to make more conscious management decisions to improve the health of the pastures in the long term.
Holistic grazing management sometimes requires that pasture lands be rested. The plants in these photos were taken from an area that had been previously heavily grazed and mowed. This year, when we noticed bobolinks settling down to nest in this spot, we let the pasture grow tall through mid July before grazing it so the bobolinks could raise their young easily. Bobolinks are ground-nesting birds, who typically hide their nests under broadleaf plants and legumes amidst tall grasses, and they need enough insect activity in the fields to feed themselves and their young. Two nests have successfully fledged young bobolinks in the area where these plant samples were taken, and two nests in another field.
We are hoping to continue to see species diversity improve over time, and have already found over 150 species of plants in our pastures and along the edges of our pastures and trails.