Record keeping can help with management

Farm Forum

Crops are in, a second cutting of alfalfa is getting under way and cattle are moving to warm season pastures in the area. Now is a great time to take some time to review the last few months and take stock of your management decisions.

Record keeping is obviously not anything new to management, but practicing this vital skill can be challenging. Some folks like to keep a daily log, others tend to jot down a note here or there, still others try to keep everything ‘in their head’ and occasionally record the highlights.

When it comes to grassland or pasture record keeping, frequent notes can be important to your long-term decision making success. Think back to your observations during the spring of 2012 vs. the spring of 2013. How did your observations affect your perceptions, which in turn affected your decisions? If you were asked as to why you made the decisions you did, could you draw on your records for validation? If the answer is no, you may want to think about committing to better record keeping.

When managing grasslands, understanding sequences of events and recognizing indicators is sometimes more important than tracking specific dates, as we know our weather can vary greatly from one year to the next. By tracking your observations and management actions, and by reviewing our notes periodically, you will be prompted to evaluate the success of your management through monitoring and will be able to make sound decisions for the future.

As warm season grasses are now fully growing, take a ride through your pastures to determine if there are adjustments to be made to your 2013 plan. Do you have more cool season grasses than you assumed you’d have? Can you afford some rest to pastures that were over utilized in the past? Are there plants in the pasture that you cannot identify? Do you wonder how it all fits together? Keeping tabs on your observations will help you prioritize where your time is best spent.

There are a few upcoming events that grassland managers should be aware of that can provide a great starting point for record keeping. Interested individuals should contact me here at the Watertown Regional Extension Center at (605) 882-5140 or at for additional information:

· S.D. Grazing School: Sept. 10-12, Chamberlain, S.D. Hands-on interactive school is an absolute must for producers wanting to improve their grazing strategies.

· S.D. Rangeland Monitoring School: July 30-31, New Underwood, S.D. School is designed for any rancher or conservation manger seeking a rapid, repeatable monitoring program.

· Grassfed Rising Conference: Aug. 20-22, Bismarck, N.D. Combination ranch tours, talks, and advice on managing and marketing grass-fed and grass-finished beef.

· Prescribed Burn Planning Workshop: Sept. 24, Pickstown, S.D. Half-day workshop is designed for producers interested in learning about fire utilization. Focus will be on eastern red cedar control in rangelands.

· Patch Burn Grazing Workshop: Sept. 25-26, Gary, S.D. Combination of ranch tours, talks, and advice on utilizing fire and grazing rotations for grassland health, livestock and wildlife production.

NOTE: The S.D. Department of Ag has scheduled the 2013 Pesticide Container Recycle Collection Dates at many locations throughout the region and state starting July 15 and running through September 11. Contact S.D. Dept. of Ag at 1-605-773-5425.