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Always becoming a better keeper of the land

My work as a farmer is really rooted in idea of lifelong learning. I’m always learning, whether it’s daily through observation of my livestock or from season-to-season how our pastures grow and flourish (or, not so much with a drought year like last summer).

This concept of always learning holds true with the regenerative farming practices I use with my farm. As farmers, we’re working within a biological system, a scientific environment of sorts with no controls. We work with the environment around us and try new practices for the health of our soil, our natural resources, and our farm.

As a farmer, I’m always striving to be better at what I do. I have to be, otherwise, I won’t be here in the future. It’s my “professional development” (sorry corporate cube speak, from my old career days) as a farmer.

So what does this look like in the regenerative space? It’s actively seeking out ways to learn about new practices through conferences, field days, pasture walks, farmer organizations, networking with other farmers, as well as, reading farm publications and research studies.

Today I’m headed off to one of my favorite events in this space, the GrassWorks Grazing Conference. This organization is our state grazing association. The conference sessions are always top-notch and so is the networking. I’m looking forward to taking in sessions on topics related to health concerns of grazing ruminants, silvopasture practices, soil health, soil carbon sequestration with grazing, perennial forage systems, savanna restoration, and more.

Some of the other places I look to for my “continuing education” include:

  • Participating in pastures walks and programs through our local grazing networks
  • Involvement in our local farmer-led watershed groups with field days and trying new conservation practices
  • Lots of reading and podcasts: Stockman Grass Farmer, Progressive Forage, ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture, SARE, university research studies, and seeking out podcasts on related topics
  • While I’m not in Minnesota, I live close to the state line. I like to follow the farmer education and outreach work with the Sustainable Farming Association and the Land Stewardship Project. Heading a little south, the Practical Farmers of Iowa also do a bit of interesting on-farm research on conservation and regenerative farming practices.  

Since I’m a grazier this has been what works well for me. What resources have worked well for you to keep learning in this area?

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