Landscape Management

Increase the vigor and overall health of our landscape by following regenerative grazing and land management practices that support robust native grass species and minimize noxious weeds. 

LIVING SOILS

We have learned the importance of essential elements of living soil systems. We believe in order to have a healthy landscape, people, and wildlife, we must maintain and improve our living soils by managing our ranching practices for what we would like to see (diverse grass species and healthy, living soils) in a holistic and regenerative approach. 


BIOLOGICAL & MANUAL CONTROL

While we understand the possible need to chemically control some types of noxious weed infestations, we've been experimenting for a number of years with non-chemical approaches.

GOATS

Early journal entries from Explorers document many cases of wild herd animals from the past moving over the landscape in mass amounts- tens of thousands of grazing animals like elk and buffalo, moving naturally and fluidly. Behind them came browsing animals like deer and antelope. While the elk and buffalo ate the diverse and native grass species, the antelope would eat the brush and other woody plants and forbs. This is the natural system of balance, making way for generations of the same yet diverse species of plants to grow back without noxious weeds infesting over-grazed and unhealthy lands.

When goats graze today, they are mimicking the natural cycle. This natural cycle was disturbed when the cattle boom started. When many of the wild herd animals were killed and numbers substantially decreased in order for masses of cattle to graze the Great Plains and more. Grass was over-grazed, bare ground increased and (introduced) European noxious weeds flourished. Our hope is by mimicking the movement of both grazers and browsers together, the native species and overall plant health will be enhanced, benefiting the landscape and natural world. 

Goats are browsers by nature and typically prefer weeds and brush over grasses, therefore making them a tool for improving over-grazed rangeland. The idea behind mob goat grazing is for weeds to be stressed while flowering and seeding, not only stressing the plant by grazing but also disturbing the reproductive cycle as the seeds are eaten and destroyed. This process allows for the native and diverse grass species to rebound and thrive again. 

Goats are browsers by nature and typically prefer weeds and brush over grasses, therefore making them a tool for improving over-grazed rangeland. The idea behind mob goat grazing is for weeds to be stressed while flowering and seeding, not only stressing the plant by grazing but also disturbing the reproductive cycle as the seeds are eaten and destroyed. This process allows for the native and diverse grass species to rebound and thrive again. 

 

Rotational Grazing Techniques

Cattle are gathered, moved, and settled together. Not only is there great safety in numbers when herds move close together, but the land also benefits greatly from the "herd impact" by things such as hoof impact, fertilizer, and decreases in over-grazing due to animals being constantly on the move. 

Cattle are gathered, moved, and settled together. Not only is there great safety in numbers when herds move close together, but the land also benefits greatly from the "herd impact" by things such as hoof impact, fertilizer, and decreases in over-grazing due to animals being constantly on the move. 

Following the Bison

For centuries past, bison roamed much of North America and specifically used Tom Miner Basin as summer range. Bison work together as a herd, grazing one area, impacting the land through their hooves and fertilizing the land with their dung as they move. Our goal in Tom Miner is to have our cattle mimic bison as much as possible. The way in which bison utilized the range was beneficial to enhancing rangeland health and productivity. By grazing the grass once (taking one bite of each grass plant) and moving on and not returning to that area, bison evenly impacted the area and did not over-utilize the resource while knowing instinctively their return to the area would once again be lush with native grasses and healthy soil. Over grazing occurs when a single grass plant is grazed too low or too often in a grazing season thus weakening the root system. When grass is weakened the land compensates by covering the open or weak space with weeds or less desirable forage. In addition, hoof impact concentrated in a small area helps to break up the soil crusts and trample all old standing plant matter into contact with the earth. The more organic material in contact with the soil, the more easily decomposition happens and nutrients are added back into the earth. When land is under-grazed, old plant growth tends to suffocate new growth coming up from underneath. Bison trample the old growth down, thus making space for new, palatable plants to come in. Dung and urine act as fertilizer and are the key factor in motivating bison to move on to fresh ground and not continue to graze one area. This cannot be accomplished if bison functioned as a scattered herd of individuals.

 

Weevils

Vern Smith releases weevils onto knapweed to combat this notorious noxious weed. Many of these bug species are considered biological agents in the combat against noxious weed and can be used to control certain species of plants.

Vern Smith releases weevils onto knapweed to combat this notorious noxious weed. Many of these bug species are considered biological agents in the combat against noxious weed and can be used to control certain species of plants.