Published Aug 10, 2009

Grazing to Increase Biodiversity

By Sarah Carlson

Some photos and comments from a field day on Sunday, August 2nd at the beautiful Chichaqua Bottoms Wildlife Area maintained by the Polk County Conservation Board and on the farm of Bruce and Connie Carney.

The group started at Chichaqua near Maxwell, IA to discuss the 2nd year of a 3 year project to increase biodiversity in 2 different ecosystems. We first heard from the Finch’s who graze goats to restore an Oak Savanna which is filled with buckthorn.

Deb and Eric Finch spoke about their goat business and the pros and cons of grazing goats to renovate an oak savanna.

Then we headed over to a prairie restoration area where Bruce Carney and Jeff Boyd are continously grazing their 100 head of cow calf pairs on a 500 acre restored prairie. Biodiversity surveys will be conducted before and after the grazing treatment.

Following the visit to Chichaqua the group headed over to Bruce, Connie and Derek Carney’s farm. The Carney’s are working on converting cropground to grazing ground. Bruce begins seeding down cropground to alfalfa. He makes hay on this ground for 3 years before interseeding various pasture grasses and legumes. Then these pastures are grazed.

Bruce stockpile grass on his farm while his cattle graze at Chichaqua. Joe Sellers, ISU Extension grassland specialist discussed how to measure sward height and assess pasture condition scores.

He has also drilled in sorghum-sudangrass into a winter rye cover crop for more grazing acres.