Pasture grazing allows animals to follow their natural behavior patterns. Birds get to scratch around, eat grubs and dust bathe while sheep and goats can selectively browse and play.
Moving animals in smaller areas often (sometimes once a day), allows access to new food and discourages overgrazing. Rotational grazing keeps the plants coming back healthy and stores carbon in the soil. The root systems of these healthier plants aerate the soil and sequester nutrients.
When animals are grazing among the trees they have a “living barn” for protection from heat and bad weather. This also is a highly effective carbon sink and allows the ecosystem to thrive as a whole. Better managed forests capture more carbon.
Birdsfoot is minimizing tillage. Tilling turns up soil that has been actively capturing carbon and releases it back into the atmosphere. Too much tilling tends to create a hardpan layer a few feet down that plants’ roots are unable to penetrate, often seen in grasses that do not grow very tall. Grasses generally have as much root going down as plant matter going up.
Cover cropping achieves many things all at once. Keeping soil covered when not in “production” prevents the loss of topsoil or nutrients from erosion. Meanwhile, nitrogen fixing plants like clover, vetch, birdsfoot trefoil and peas improve overall nitrogen and nutrition of the soil. Birdsfoot incorporates the cover crop as a green manure for whatever is planted next. Turnips and other cover crops with large penetrating roots are used to break up compacted soils.
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