Soil Health Enables Climate Beneficial Wool

Rancher Benefits in Multiple Ways from Soil Health

What if, before you purchased a hat or sweater, you knew the wool used to make it came from sheep raised on a ranch managed to improve soil health and increase soil carbon? For nearly a decade, ranch owner Lani Estill has worked with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to improve soil health.

By adding carbon-conscious conservation practices to her ranch, the operation now stores more carbon in the soil than it emits through its operations. As a result, her operation, Bare Ranch, is marketing “climate beneficial” wool to a national clothing manufacturer. Estill and her family raise sheep and cattle on her 40,000-acre ranch, which sits on the border of northern California and northwest Nevada.

With help from her local NRCS offices and supported by Environmental Quality Incentives Program contracts, Estill has also improved wildlife habitat on her ranch. She improved sage grouse habitat by removing thousands of acres of invasive juniper and installed hedgerows for pollinators. She and her co-owners also installed fencing and livestock watering facilities and are following a prescribed grazing management plan.

Read the full story at www.usda.gov/blog.

Source: ASI Weekly March 9, 2018
 

Cost of Baling Hay

Drovers published an article by Travis Meteer from the University of Illinois stating that every ton of hay contains approximately 40 pounds of N (nitrogen), 20 pounds of P (phosphorus) and 50 pounds of K (potassium). However, it is important to calculate N losses at about 75 percent, thus only about 10 pounds of N are returned to the soil. The values of P and K are accurate to what would be returned.

Fertilizer prices for Illinois published by USDA (May 12 report) are: N $0.40, P $0.34, K $0.29. Using current nutrient values, hay has a fertilizer value of $25.30 per dry ton. Assuming a 1,200-pound round bale is 15 percent moisture, the nutrient value per bale is $12.91.

If you are figuring what it costs to make hay on your farm, add mowing, raking and baling at $20.20 per bale (Machinery Cost Estimates, University of Illinois Extension, June 2015). As a result, a bale of hay sitting in the field costs $33.11.

Other costs would include removal of micronutrients, moving the bales from the field, some additional time and labor in handling the bales and the use of equipment to transport the hay. If yields are below average, nearly all costs increase. Hay storage can also be a substantial part of hay costs.

Source: cattlenetwork.com (from American Sheep Industry Weekly July 22, 2016)