The Tiverton Land Trust and Geoff Beresford of Beresford of Tiverton are collaborating in an innovative land management project at Pardon Gray Preserve (PGP). The plan was outlined by guest speaker Geoff Beresford at the TLT Community Forum/ Annual Meeting held on April 21st, 2013.
The basic strategy is to use rotational cattle grazing to help manage farmland, prevent invasives from destroying grasslands, improve soil environment, and encourage healthy grass species to dominate. According to Beresford, an effective way to reach these goals - and the game plan for the PGP project - is to confine a herd of cattle to a small area and change their day-to-day grazing space by moving the cattle into small, contiguous paddocks using movable electric fencing. Hoses and a trough on wheels take care of the cattles' water needs.
Beresford described four behavior patterns of cattle and how they could be manipulated to obtain the land management effects desired. The Four M's are Mobbing, Mowing, Moving, and Manureing. Because of a tendency to stay together for protection from predators, cattle can stay in a small, enclosed area (mobbing). If confined to a small paddock, there is more pressure to eat everything (invasives as well as the more desirable clover) and the result will be a more balanced grazing (mowing). Because the cattle are constantly looking for food, they readily go from one paddock to another (moving). What the cattle do not eat within their paddock they will trample on and, together with their natural waste, will improve the soil conditions over time (manureing).
After his presentation, guests went over to PGP to see a demonstration of how the cattle are moved from one area to another. For now Beresford has nine cattle in about 1/4 acre on PGP. Over the next several months he will keep detailed records on each paddock, specific soil conditions, and monitoring any issues/problems that occur.
The TLT is proud to work with Beresford in tackling a difficult land management problem with an innovative solution and pleased with the huge amount of interest that this project has generated.