The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers several programs to help landowners address natural resource concerns related to pasture management. NRCS grassland specialists and conservation planners work with farmers on resource assessments of pastures to help design effective grazing systems. All owners and managers of private grazing land are eligible to receive technical assistance from NRCS.
Assistance available includes:
• Maintaining and improving private grazing land and its management;
• Implementing grazing land management technologies;
• Protecting and improving the quality and quantity of water;
• Maintaining and improving wildlife habitat;
• Enhancing recreational opportunities;
• Maintaining and improving the aesthetic character of private grazing land;
• Identifying opportunities and encouraging diversification; and
• Encouraging the use of sustainable grazing systems.
The following practices are a few of the key tools used by NRCS to improve pastureland in Arkansas.
• Prescribed Grazing – Producers can save money through prescribed grazing by reducing feed, fertilizer and pesticide application costs. Prescribed grazing will extend the grazing season due to higher yields of quality forage and decrease weed pressure, which will result in increased animal performance and increase carrying capacity.
• Filter Strips – The benefits of filter strips include protection of stream and river banks, reduces soil erosion, encourages wildlife usage, protects ditch banks and reduces sedimentation. Some cost like seed, fencing and alternative water development can be recovered through USDA programs.
• Alternative Livestock Watering Systems – Provides a year-round supply of clean, freeze-proof water for livestock through a well-designed watering system. When used in conjunction with protected heavy-use areas, they provide a solid, mud-free watering area. Alternative Livestock Watering Systems also provide flexibility in managing forage grazing systems, manure distribution and pasture utilization.
• Heavy Use Areas – Gate openings, areas around water tanks, feeding areas, travel lanes or hay storage areas may need protection. Provides stable, safe footing for animals and farm operators along with convenient, mud-free access during wet weather.
• Nutrient Management – Nutrient management plans determine the nutrients present in the soil, those entering each field as fertilizer materials and those leaving the field as harvested crops, so ranchers can optimize production. Some benefits of nutrient management include maintaining and improving soil conditions, reducing fertilizer cost and improving yields.
• Electric Fencing – Electric fencing is an effective way to control livestock and offers two advantages over other fencing. One is cost. The other advantage of electric fencing is its ease of construction, which improves forage management opportunities. Small pastures can enhance harvest efficiency and increase forage.
For more information on any of these programs contact your local NRCS office or call the state office at 501-301-3171. Information taken from the NRCS website.