2016 Eco-Ag U ─ Building Soil Through Cover Crops & Livestock
1 day, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016 ─ open to All-Access and Conference-Plus registrants
Badge pickup at 8 a.m. Class begins promptly at 8:30 a.m.
North Dakota farmer/grazier Gabe Brown, known in NRDC circles as one of the Carbon Cowboys, will share his experience and insights in cover cropping and livestock production with an eye toward rapid building of soil. When the Browns purchased their ranch in 1991 it had a carrying capacity of 100 cow/calf pairs. The degraded soils had organic matter levels less than 2 percent and rainfall infiltration rates were less than half an inch per hour. Today the ranch carries 350 cow/calf pairs along with 400 to 800 yearlings. Organic matter levels have increased to over 6 percent and infiltration rates are now 8 inches per hour! A ranch once devoid of wildlife and the habitat to support it is now a healthy, functioning ecosystem. This focus on regeneration has drawn the attention of conservation groups worldwide.
The Browns have regenerated their landscape without the use of synthetic inputs. Just as species work together in a natural ecosystem, the Browns follow this pattern by using diverse livestock species to address their resource concerns. This has given them a high quality of life while allowing for the transition of the ranch to the next generation. The Browns holistically integrate their grazing and no-till cropping system, which includes a wide variety of cash crops and multi-species cover crops along with all natural grass-fed beef, poultry and sheep. This diversity and integration has regenerated the natural resources on the ranch without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides. Over 2,000 people visit Brown's Ranch annually to see this unique operation for themselves. They have had visitors from all 50 states and 16 foreign countries.
About the PresenterGabe Brown has merged back-to-basics agrarian practices with innovative, science-based sustainable farming techniques on his 5,400-acre diversified family ranch for over 15 years. For decades the cropland had been conventionally farmed with tillage and the use of synthetic fertilizers and herbicides. Tillage had lowered organic matter levels to less than 2 percent. In 1993 Brown purchased a no-till drill and converted 100 percent of his cropland to no-till. Brown practices Holistic Management and employs a diverse cropping strategy on his grain and cattle operation which includes over 25 different cash and cover crops resulting in high yields and strong net profits. The Browns' evolving grazing strategy allows most of the ranch's pastures a recovery period of more than 360 days. The Natural Resources Defense Council awarded one of its 2012 Growing Green Awards to Brown and says, "Gabe's trailblazing work has made him a leader in regenerative ranch management."
Watch the online video “Gabe Brown: 2012 Growing Green Food Producer.”
Watch the online video “Gabe Brown – Keys to Building a Healthy Soil, 2014.”
Watch the online video “Soil Carbon Cowboys.”