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Agricultural Grazing

There are a variety of uses and applications for grazing in commercial and non-commercial agricultural systems.  Grazing animals can significantly increase soil viability while managing cover crops, eliminating weeds, and reducing / eliminating the need for herbicidal application and chemical fertilizer.

As an alternative / compliment to ‘conventional' systems of soil and crop cultivation, goats, and / or a combination of other domestic livestock (sheep, cattle, chickens and horses) can be integrated into a No-Till Cultivation System.  Grazing animals can eliminate the need for mechanical cultivation of soils altogether and, furthermore, eliminate the use of chemical fertilizers.  Manure from grazing animals is high in nitrogen and phosphorus and rich in minerals.  Unlike chemical fertilizers, manure releases into the soil slower and therefore is less likely to leech through the soil - manure is more efficient and has a higher potential for utilization in soil (by plants) than chemical fertilizer.   Additionally, manure increases the amount of organic matter in soil and aids in the construction and development of carbon-stable humus.   The physical impact of the grazer on soils and cropland can dramatically change and improve the quality of the soil both physically and chemically.   Through trampling grazers can improve the cycling of nutrients, facilitating a rapid and efficient breakdown of unutilized plant matter (i.e. old crop, weeds, crop residues.) Rapid cycling of above-ground organic plant matter into the soil effectively sequesters carbon that would otherwise oxidize and be lost to the soil altogether.

The use of hoofed/cloven animals, particularly goats and sheep, for sewing crop seeds and cover crops is also a useful alternative to tractor managed operations.  Goats can simultaneously break open capped soils, incorporate seed into soils, irrigate and fertilize.  Highly stocked paddocks - that is, areas where the ratio / amount of goats per acre or square foot exceeds 1000 goats per ½ acre (common stocking density) - can, through trampling alone, reseed and perpetuate a crop.

Goat management can effectively decrease the use of fossil fuels in agriculture, support the management of organic matter in soils and increase an ecotones ability to “naturally” sequester carbon.  What’s more, landowners, farmers, government agencies and businesses in the private sector can be compensated for using “greener” ecological technologies.

carbon sequestration