September’s grassland education opportunities

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Farm Forum

September is Grassland Education Month. Whether it’s official or not, we’ve got some great opportunities for grassland producers and grassland managers coming our way. SDSU and the South Dakota Grassland Coalition are bringing renowned speaker and world-wide authority on grassland management Allan Savory to South Dakota for two days of lectures and field visits that are sure to enhance our understanding of grasslands at a global scale and possibly challenge our way of thinking about how we manage our grassland resources here in South Dakota.

For those unfamiliar with Savory, he’s is the founder and president of the Savory Institute which is focused on utilizing livestock to improve worldwide grassland health. Savory’s career includes titles such as: farmer, game rancher, politician and international consultant. He has worked worldwide in an attempt to reverse land degradation. He founded Holistic Management International based on the concepts of holistic management.

In 2003, Savory was awarded the Banksia International Award for the person or organization doing the most for the environment on a global scale. His current work in Africa is receiving much praise and recognition and the Africa Centre for Holistic Management was announced the winner of the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Award for the organization working to solve the world’s most pressing problems.

The Allan Savory events will kick off on Wednesday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center at SDSU in Brookings. The evening will begin with recognition of past and current recipients of the Leopold Conservation Award in South Dakota followed by Allan Savory as the featured speaker for the evening. Savory will discuss the role of livestock and implications on global grassland health. This promises to be a dynamic presentation that is sure to capture the interest of a general audience as Savory’s message transcends simply raising livestock as he discusses the relationship of grasslands to the global human environment as well. The evening is free and open to the public.

Events continue on Thursday, Sept. 11, at 9 a.m. at the Rick and Karen Smith farm near Hayti, S.D., where Savory will be featured as a guest expert. The day will feature Savory participating in a tour of the operation as hosts and guests discuss grassland management here in South Dakota. The tour will include stops at various locals to discuss such topics as grassland production, range management, soil health, organic matter, rainfall capture and management, livestock watering systems, cover crops, mob grazing, and a host of related topics including a live demonstration of the NRCS’s Rainfall Simulator.

Registration for the field day event is $25/person for South Dakota Grassland Coalition members and $50/person for non-members. Non-members will receive 1 year of membership to SDGC with their $50 registration. Special discounted student rates will apply and educators/instructors are encouraged to bring student groups to the field day.

On-site registration begins at 9 a.m. with the program and tour starting at 10 a.m. Lunch will be served and the day will conclude at 2:30 p.m. with an ice cream social featuring SDSU ice cream. The field day will be held rain or shine and participants are encouraged to dress appropriately. The Rick and Karen Smith Farm is located at 45062 180th St., Hayti, SD 57241. Visit iGrow.org or sdgrass.org over the next few weeks for more information.

RSVP and pre-registration for the event are requested by contacting Dr. Sandy Smart at SDSU via email Alexander.Smart@sdstate.edu or by calling him at 688-4017. Send checks payable to SDGC in care of Sandy Smart, Box 2170, SDSU, Brookings, SD, 57007. Instructors should contact Dr. Sandy Smart for more information on student rates.

The annual South Dakota Grazing School will be held in Chamberlain, S.D., Tuesday, Sept. 16, through Thursday, Sept. 18. As always, the school features a variety of range and cattle management topics, including hands-on livestock allocation, pasture monitoring, and forage assessment exercises. The S.D. Grazing School is organized through the South Dakota Grassland Coalition, SDSU, NRCS, and other partners and is the premier school in the region for novices and the advanced grazing manager. Registration for the school is $150 and includes meals and on-site travel. For more information or to register contact Judge Jessop at jljessop@kennebectelephone.com or at 605-280-0127 or contact me at the SDSU Regional Extension Center here in Watertown at 605-688-5140. Visit sdgrass.org for more information on course curriculum.