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Re: Holistic Management in cropping and dairy situations (fwd)

From: "Wyatt Fraas" <ceruaf01@nol.org>
Subject: Re: Holistic Management in cropping and dairy situations

Dick -  I know there are many folks who have extensive and intensive 
experience with grass-based dairying, but I'll add a comment from the 
'encourager' perspective.  I'm working with a group of farmers who are 
re-learning how to graze their dairy cows.  They are working together 
to compare practices and problems for feed rations, fencing and 
watering materials, handling methods, grazing techniques.  They 
exemplify the trend toward group 'pasture walks' that the large grazing 
networks in MN, MI, and WI hold each week or so.  This peer support and 
problem-solving appears to be critical to helping farmers to try new 
approaches.  I've found here in NE that there is indeed safety in 
numbers - neighbors will laugh at an individual, but will take interest 
and ask questions if a group tries something different. 
    Our dairymen 
came to the idea of grass dairying not for economics, but for 
quality-of-life concerns.  They were worn out from the grind of 
managing machinery, hauling manure, treating sick and dirty animals, 
working indoors, and not having family members help with the hard and 
dangerous mechanical work.  Spousal complaints about lack of family 
time, fatigue and temperament helped push these men into looking for 
alternatives.  Several admitted they were looking for ways to stop what 
they were doing, but their only perceived alternative was to stop 
milking.  Over 2 years, a respected neighbor presented the grass 
alternative enough times that they finally understood him and took his 
offer to try something new (and small-scale and safe) as a group.

After the first year, we convinced Extension to cosponsor a dairy 
grazing workshop in the winter.  We had a nationally known speaker who 
wrote for a major dairy magazine about his grass dairy, as well as a 
panel of these local dairymen.  We attracted 50 farmers, most of whom 
had heard a little about grass, but hadn't asked an experienced farmer 
about it.  They asked lots of questions.  And Extension realized they 
had missed the beginning of grass dairy interest here and are now 
building an education program to help.  As with any farming innovation, 
dairymen must be convinced that they can make money if they change.  
Economics wasn't the driving force with the NE farmers, q-o-l concerns 
were, but they wouldn't even listen if the economics weren't there.  So 
now I present the dollar figures just as a way to remove that 
objection, then I talk about the other advantages.

As for pineapple, you might ask folks at EARTH (Ag school for the humid 
tropics) about alternative methods of raising pineapple.  They've done 
groundbreaking work with bananas and are working on other crops, 
although I don't know which ones.  You can reach them at: EARTH, Apdo. 
postal 444-1000, San Jose, Costa Rica, tel 506 255-2000, fax 506 
255-2726, www.earth.ac.cr, jfrench@ns.earth.cr

--  Wyatt Fraas

On 16 Jun 97 at 13:37, drichdsn@iafrica.com wrote:

Subject: Holistic Management in cropping and dairy situations

Hallo to you all from South Africa. 

I am writing to try and get some help from anyone who has had experience with 
Holistic Management in Cropping and also if anyone has had any experience with 
grass-feed dairying. We have recently got involved with training people in 
mixed agricultural situations and would like any help we can get from those of 
you who have had experience in those fields.

In South Africa, Holistic Management is still seen to be very much a livestock 
thing. Fortunately we are beginning to stimulate a lot of interest in people in 
mixed agricultural situations and also in non-land based situations. There are 
two particular areas that we would like help with.

1. Large scale pineapple production (which must be one of the most chemical 
reliant crops around); sugar cane; chicory; peanuts (ground nuts); and maize.

We would appreciate any information on crop mixture possibilities, control of 
problem organisms, land sizes and the introduction of edge effect, the 
economics of changing from large scale conventional production to more holistic 
management, etc. If you have any knowledge and experience in these areas we 
would really appreciate hearing from you.

2. We also have several clients interested in changing from high 
concentrate-reliant dairying to grass-feed dairying. The fear of change is one 
of the biggest concerns so if you have any success stories to relate, what to 
try and what not to try, we would appreciate hearing from you too.

Thank you for your time and all the best.

Dick Richardson

Dick and Judy Richardson
Whole Concepts
PO Box 10440
Vorna Valley 1686
South Africa
E-mail: drichdsn@iafrica.com

Wyatt Fraas

Center for Rural Affairs
PO Box 736
Hartington, NE USA 68739
402 254-6893  fax -6891