Doug Spencer – Resource Inventory

(Doug) My name is Doug Spencer, I work with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and I am stationed in Marion County. But I cover the southern Flint Hill region as a Rangeland Management Specialist. So kind of one of the big things I was talking about was Resource Inventory and Stocking Rates and the main thing we want to point out there is that producers own land, but not every piece of that land is the same. So we want to take an inventory, or look at that land unit individually and see some of the challenges that it may have from the soils from he plants that grow on that particular land unit. And then kind of look at OK, if I’ve got this land base or my resources, then bringing in the livestock or an animal component to that. And seeing how can those balance well. With inventory as well, we also encourage them to come up with goals. What is my goal of the operation and should I use cows or a multi species and those. But to really see what do I have to work with. So that’s what the resource inventory and pulling the stocking rates is. There is a certain amount of vegetation, amounts and quantities and qualities that’s gonna grow on that particular land unit. And trying to balance that out with particular animals. And so we really work heavily with stocking rates because certain sites produce a lot of grass and some have some challenges, may produce less grass. And we can balance that instead of using these average rates. Again, pastures aren’t average and so we like to try to fine tune that, where this one might be able to carry some more stocking, this one may be less. But to balance that out of the whole operation. So that’s mostly what the resource inventory does. But we do look at the land units, the water on it. And as this school is, it’s geared toward the management intensive grazing, and that’s a tool in the tool box. But we really want to go back to that basics. You know we’ve got to know enough about that land unit, the soils and things. And see if management intensive grazing is a good fit or some level of management intensive grazing. On range land we look at ecological sites. On pastures we call those forage suitability groups. There’s similar soils that are going to grow similar types of production. Then we need to see what kind of species of grass do I have out there. Because there’s some species that are much more palatable. And some that are not. And so helping the land owner. That’s probably one big thing with plant identification. Another thing we stress and that way we know what plants we have out there. Because there are some animals that consume readily and some that they don’t. And so just understanding those. Then we’ll get that baseline so that we know where we’re starting. We have plants that we don’t want. What are we gonna do? Let’s manage for what we want. And so we start looking at the key plants. And OK, how do we give ’em enough leaf material. Make sure they’re strong with roots that they can persist and improve. And so we’ll start with that. And then again, I’ve got to look at that because each producer, they may have cow/calf, they may have stockers. And so how can we use those animals to either positively impact that rangeland unit. And so that’s where we start talking about a balance with the livestock. But that’s what we try to do, is to help understand what I have to start with, that production that I have and if there is any concerns, if there’s noxious weeds, things like that we try to point those out. Sometimes we find instances where producers don’t know they have those concerns. So we try to do that evaluation fence to fence to really look at what’s out there, and then with the planting process. Then based on what we see, if there’s any concerns what we’ll do then is bring those to the producer and then try to provide alternatives. Well, these are some issues we see, these might be some steps. One might be management intensive grazing. What does that do? Well, it allows me to control where those animals are at and allows rest. And so that might be it. But, what if the waters aren’t there? And so then OK, well maybe that alternate is not, so let’s to step to an alternate of two, three. But it all goes back to that producer’s decision. So we try to look at a second eye to the land, give them something that they can go then decide, this is the path I want to go down to accomplish this goal. And help them find those practices. to do that. As far as producers contacting, we have local field offices in most county seats. And so you could look up in the phone directory as far as USDA, local USDA Service Center. For us specifically, you can go on the web and actually under there, there is a ‘contact us’ on it and there is a drop down and that gives you the local phone number. But it is just a simple call in there and say I’ve got this particular land unit or this particular concern, I’d like you to come out and help me do some planning on the land. And that’s where we start and that can lead into alternatives, even to sometimes we’ll even do some simple plant identification. I think I’ve got this noxious weed, would ya come out and take at look at it with me and see if you can see that? We do, we like to meet the producer on the land. And that way we really know, fine tune, instead of just general questions say this is my specific situation. But that’s how you can contact us, just a phone call and then request what particular thing we can help you with.

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