Field Day will discuss grazinglands in Texas

Improving ranch economics and health will be the focus of an upcoming field day sponsored jointly by Holistic Resource Management of Texas, Texas Cooperative Extension and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station components of the Texas A&M University System. The field day will be held on the Ford Ranch near Brady on Wednesday, May 21. Sustainability of grazinglands is crucial to the culture of Texas. The economy, individual physical well-being and mental health is related to the health of those grazinglands. The rangeland component, some 94 million acres in Texas, provides a variety of goods, services, and values that are dependent upon rangeland health. If the land is healthy, it has biotic integrity and its ecological processes are functioning well. If it is unhealthy then it lacks biodiversity, is not productive, the ecological processes are disrupted and the land degrades or desertifies. Rangeland health can be enhanced and maintained in healthy and at-risk situations, but unhealthy rangelands will require cultural and management inputs that are difficult and expensive. A manager needs to assess the health of his/her rangelands and take appropriate action to repair damaged processes. Dr. Kris Havstad, Agricultural Research Service range scientist and director of the Jornada Experiment Station in New Mexico, will keynote the field day with a discussion on what is rangeland health and what can be done about it. His discussion will be followed by field demonstrations and presentations on water and mineral cycling by Dr. Brad Wilcox, TAMU Rangeland Hydrologist, and Charles Anderson, NRCS range conservationist. Dr. Barron Rector with Texas Cooperative Extension will demonstrate the fate of rainfall with the use of rainfall simulators. The next stop will emphasize energy flow and vegetation dynamics. Dr. Richard Teague, TAMU Range Scientist, will lead this discussion. He will be followed by Dr. Allan McGinty, Extension range specialist, on the importance of monitoring rangeland. After a catered lunch, participants will hear from Forrest Armke, manager of the Ford Ranch, on management strategies to enhance the health and sustainability of the ranch’s resources. John Hackley will follow with management strategies to enhance rangeland health. Field demonstrations and discussions on livestock grazing will be presented by Butch Taylor, TAES research scientist; ripping and seeding by Darrell Ueckert, TAES research scientist; and weed and brush management by Wayne Hanselka, Extension Range specialist. The field day will be summarized in a presentation by Dr. John Merrill, Tarrant County rancher and former director of the TCU Ranch Management program. Participants should gain pertinent information relative to assessing the health of their property and some tips on management practices to overcome some of the problems they face. Discussion time with neighbors, speakers, and colleagues should answer many of the questions that arise. All interested persons are encouraged to attend. Registration fee is $25. For more information phone Peggy Jones at 512/858-2761.

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