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SDSU Extension, partners offer grazing planning opportunities

BROOKINGS -- Compared with agronomy and cropping sciences, grazing and grassland production generally require less economic input. Because of this, there can be the misconception that grazing management is an enterprise that requires less forethought and management, explained Pete Bauman, SDSU Extension range field specialist.

"This assumption was challenged over the past year as producers managing grazing land were required to respond to a drought that still lingers in the southwest portion of the state," he said.

He added that those producers who were caught off guard were forced to make adjustments they may not have been prepared for, such as drastic reductions in herd numbers.

"Those that had a sound management plan may also have had to de-stock, but their decisions were based on certain indicators and triggers that were pre-determined by their management plan," Bauman said.

What producers learned

SDSU Extension encourages producers to incorporate improved planning into grazing systems management. To aid them in their efforts, earlier this year SDSU Extension, in cooperation with the National Drought Mitigation Center, hosted the Managing Drought Risk on the Ranch webinar series to South Dakota producers at SDSU Extension Regional Centers throughout the state.

During these sessions, producers were exposed to several drought tools and planning resources that are still easily accessible to all. Drought and ranch planning resources are listed below:

• National Drought Mitigation Center --

• Managing Drought Risk on the Ranch webinar series recordings --

• U.S. Drought Monitoring Tool

• South Dakota NRCS Drought Tool --

• Writing a Drought Plan--

SDSU Extension will continue to serve our grassland producers over the next several months, working with partner organizations to offer additional grazing planning training opportunities; these are listed below:

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

• South Dakota Grazing School: Sept. 10-12 in Chamberlain. This annual class is organized by the South Dakota Grassland Coalition and is a hands-on interactive school. This school is an absolute must for producers wanting to improve their grazing strategies. Visit for information.

• Prescribed Burn Planning Workshop: Sept. 24 in Pickstown. This half-day workshop is designed for producers interested in learning about fire utilization. Focus will be on eastern red cedar control in rangelands. Visit for information.

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

• SDSU Extension drought management and pasture insurance planning workshops: Fall 2013, details to be announced.

To learn more visit