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Holistic Land Planning and soil testing with NRCS experts

The following post is a summary of a session on Springs Ranch led by NRCS soil expert James Komar. Spencer Smith spent the day with Komar and others from the Modoc County NRCS office evaluating soil conditions on the ranch and discussing holistic land planning. The post is written by Spencer Smith.

Recently we were lucky enough to have James Komar visit the ranch, James is the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) regional soil expert based out of the Red Bluff, California office. James visited for multiple reasons:

  •  To help us evaluate the condition of the soil on the ranch
  • To teach the Modoc NRCS conservationist how to use the new NRCS soil test kit.

The morning session was spent looking at problem areas of the ranch, such as cattle loafing areas and other places with signs of soil compaction. We discussed how the implementation of holistic management will address these issues. We had a great time learning from James and Brian Voelker, Modoc County range management specialist, about the soil classifications and soil types that comprise our meadows, dryland farm fields, and rangelands.

Together we discussed how high stock densities with long recovery times will be the action required to break up the compaction in the soil profile. Also, we looked at some of the NRCS programs available to add ranch infrastructure, such as fencing. Working with the NRCS to develop some additional fencing for the ranch has been a great experience, we discussed how additional fencing could work with our holistic land plan and our holistic grazing plan. Later that day, the rest of the Modoc NRCS office join us for  further discussions about soil health and James led the afternoon session in how to use the new “soil health kit” that the NRCS developed for determining soil compaction and fertility issues. It was a great day of learning and discussing soil health, in particular how we can use livestock as a tool to improve the ecosystem function, fertility, and production on our ranch.

James Komar, soil scientist, grazing for change, holistic management

NRCS soil scientist, James Komar