A "Rolling Classroom" bus trip will be offered free of charge on Friday, August 3 to see selected grassland management sites in Ringgold and Decator Counties in Iowa and see the 4,000 acre Dunn Ranch in Northern Missouri. Pick up sites for the bus tour are Creston, Corning, Bedford, Mount Ayr, and Lamoni.
The bus tour will feature grassland management alternatives and water system alternatives for grazing cattle. Unlike most tours, however, this trip will also feature compatibility of grasslands with wildlife species.
"Southern Iowa is seeing an amazing increase in the number of landowners that want recreation from their lands. That may be hunting, fishing, prairie restoration, songbirds, or just open space. Urban people are acquiring land for their own "Place to get away." This has brought a large influx of absentee land ownership too southern, traditionally grassland, counties. That ownership has taken away land that had been historically cattle grazing. If the new owners completely eliminate grazing, without lots of work, their land will soon become brush, and eventually trees in a very slow plant succession. Periodic grazing can allow for wildlife resting and production while still providing forage for a local producer. We want to show current examples of a Win-Win scenario that supports the wants of the wildlife interested people and the forage needs of the grazing industry," said Ed Johnston, Chairman of the Southern Iowa Forage and Livestock Committee. Ed is a Diagonal, Iowa cattle producer.
Several topics to be discussed throughout tour
The bus tour is free of charge, however pre-registration is required. To join the tour, contact John Klein at the NRCS office in Corning at 641-322-3116. The air-conditioned bus from Southwestern Community College in Creston will be provided for comfort on the tour.
Speakers will be explaining grazing management, landowner arrangements, warm-season grass grazing, and livestock watering systems between stops. The Dunn Ranch will be seen in the morning and sites in Ringgold County will be toured in the afternoon. These sites will include private pasture lands and also public land owned by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. That public land will use grazing animals for habitat improvement. Two wildlife and grazing compatibility studies are being conducted currently by Iowa State University. Researchers will outline these studies and their preliminary results during the bus ride. Joe Sellers, Extension Livestock Specialist, will speak on different arrangements for contract grazing that utilize the skills of a cattleman and the land of someone else. Cattle pond access watering systems will be demonstrated at two sites in Ringgold County owned by Lee Faris of Mount Ayr as part of the tour. Water is a determining factor on any grazing management practice.
This tour is provided by the Southern Iowa Forage and Livestock Committee with assistance and support from USDA-NRCS and Iowa State University extension.
The Dunn Ranch is a large project of The Nature Conservancy. It is their objective to reconstruct a native grassland area utilizing both fire and grazing. They are using cattle in place of the original buffalo as the primary herbivores.