Pasture workshop held for locals

Published 10:50 pm Thursday, November 21, 2019

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COLUMBUS-The Polk County Soil and Water (PCSW) conservation district held an improving pasture workshop earlier this week. Pasture owners from five different counties gathered at San Felipe Farm in Columbus for a three-hour informational workshop. 


PCSW was able to put this event on due to a grant that the district applied for. Polk County was one of sixteen counties in North Carolina selected to receive a grant to use to share pasture knowledge with local farmers and pasture owners. Half of the grant went to demonstration establishment; this was used for chemical spray, seed and fertilizer. The other half of the grant was used for technical assistance. 

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Those in attendance had the opportunity to ask agriculture professionals questions ranging from how to remove certain invasive grasses to what type of grass is better for certain types of farming animals and what is the best way to apply grass seed in order for there to be a nice production of grass for the upcoming season. 


Those professionals in attendance of the workshop were Johnny Rogers, Dr. Deidre Harmon and Noah Henson, all from the N.C. State extension program. 


Rogers is the N.C. State Amazing Grazing program coordinator. Amazing Grazing is an extension program dedicated to understanding the ins and outs of pasturing and what works best for pastures. 


Along with Rogers, Dr. Deidre Harmon is also from the N.C. State extension agriculture program. Dr. Harmon works primarily as a livestock specialist at the Mountain Research station. Dr. Harmon was able to answer questions specifically related to this area of the foothills, as she monitors this area of North Carolina for her research. Her research focuses on management strategies for pasture based livestock systems. 


Henson is a local area agent for the N.C. state extension agriculture program that focuses solely on livestock, dairy, equine and forage for Buncombe, Hendersonville and Polk counties. 


Pasture owners, farmers and producers listened to San Felipe Farm owner Raphael Bravo as he explained how his farm is operated. San Felipe Farm uses many of the strategies that originate from both Dr. Harmon and Mr. Rogers. 


During a question and answer period, the audience was able to speak to Bravo as he has seen first hand how these strategic changes have produced growth quickly on his farm. 


The Bravos have owned San Felipe Farm since 2016 and have seen much improvement by using these techniques, which is why the workshop was held there. 


PCSW administrator and organizer of the event Kelly Gay said “ [the soil and water district] chose to put this workshop together because of the many farmers and producers we have in this part of North Carolina. Attending a workshop like this one is such a great resource for the agriculture community here in the foothills.”


Everyone was invited into the pasture of San Felipe Farm to do a walkthrough with Dr. Harmon and Mr. Rogers. During the walk the two further explained useful strategies to improve pastures and any tips and tricks they could add in were shared as well. This was where those in attendance were able to see first hand the improvement of production by using the new techniques. 


Gay continued, “There are so many resources available to assist citizens at all stages of the process. Everyone has their own issues and starting point.  It can be overwhelming, but also exciting. My hope is that participants walked away from the workshop encouraged that they can do something to try to improve their pastures. You need to start somewhere and there are people that can help as resources along the way.” 


For more information for those interested in pasture improvement, you can call the Polk County Soil and Water conservation district at 828-894-8550.



San Felipe Farm owner Raphael Bravo shares strategies used on the farm with the audience (img name Raphael)

By Carson Parnell