Land Trust News

Kelly Kountz Photo / Courtesy of Gallatin Valley Land Trust

Maximizing the Grass Resource in the Bitterroot

Bitter Root Land Trust contributed an article in the recent Ravalli Republic Agriculture Quarterly publication about the benefits of “flash-grazing” in the Bitterroot Valley.

From the article, written by Bitter Root Land Trust’s Emy Royce:

“We were looking for ways to maximize the grass resource, address weeds, improve soil health, and provide healthier pastures for the cows,” rancher Steve Peckinpaugh explains.

Now they “flash-graze,” also known as “intensive grazing.” Small sections of pastureland are grazed, and then left to rest for at least 45 days, sometimes longer.

“It ensures all the forage is eaten, not just the ‘good stuff,’ and in turn the weeds have all but disappeared,” says Steve.

“There’s more organic matter in the soil, which means more nutrient-rich grass for cows. It’s a natural cycle that helps ranches like ours weather the changing times,” notes Lee Severson, another rancher utilizing flash-grazing.

Lee manages Flying E Ranch, one of the larger conserved ranches in the area. “We adapted this grazing strategy a little over 10 years ago. The biggest difference I’ve seen is that I can feed our cows natural grasses for longer, instead of hay. If you can feed them grass instead of hay, not only are the cows better off, it saves money and water.”