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Grassroots grazing workshops being held this summer and fall
Livestock producers interested in strengthening or transitioning grazing practices can sharpen their skills by attending the upcoming Grassroots Grazing workshops. The series is offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the regional Natural Resources Conservation Service. The first series of classes, which will focus on soil health and plant identification, will be offered in several counties across northeast Iowa and will last from 4:30-8:30 p.m. on June 27, 28 and 29. Four additional classes are planned for this summer and fall, all featuring various topics related to grazing.

The short course consists of five different modules taught over the grazing season.

"Grassroots Grazing is designed for grazers interested in managed grazing systems to increase forage availability and carrying capacity," said Denise Schwab, beef specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. "Producers who want to optimize forage and livestock production, increase forage utilization and conserve natural resources will find the modules very informative."

The course will cover concepts relevant to all producers of grass-based livestock, whether for beef, dairy, sheep or other animals, according to Schwab. This summer, Grassroots Grazing sessions will be held in three different locations: Clayton and Fayette counties, Buchanan and Delaware counties, and Jackson County. However, all producers in northeast Iowa are welcome to attend. Each workshop will have a classroom component with experienced instructors and a hands-on field component.

The workshops will begin promptly at 4:30 p.m. and will conclude by 8:30 p.m. The first class will be held on June 27 for the Jackson County group, June 28 for the Clayton and Fayette County group, and June 29 for the Buchanan and Delaware County group. The following four sessions will be held in late July, late August, mid-September and mid-November.

The June sessions will feature ISU Extension and Outreach field agronomists Josh Michel and Virgil Schmitt, speaking about the basics of soil and fertility; with plant identification and the importance of managing forage by Schwab.

The July sessions will focus on weed and brush control and pasture condition scoring, and the August sessions will feature fencing systems and utilizing annual forages. September's workshop will feature water system development with ISU Extension and Outreach ag engineer Brian Dougherty, as well as a discussion on soil health. The final program, held in mid-November, will feature cover crop and winter grazing. Each session will be held on a different farm, so check with the appropriate ISU Extension and Outreach county office for details and locations.

"The Grassroots Grazing program is designed to help livestock producers evaluate their own pasture management and implement steps to increase their grazing efficiency," Schwab said. "This training features experienced grazers sharing their knowledge along with Iowa State and NRCS specialists; it's the best combination of academics with real-world experience."

The flyer for each location has site-specific information and registration details. See the Buchanan-Delaware brochure, the Clayton-Fayette brochure and the Jackson brochure.

The course fee is $50 for all five sessions in the series. Registration fees include a resource notebook and a light dinner and help offset speaker travel. For more information on specific locations or details contact Schwab at 319-721-9624 or dschwab@iastate.edu.

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