Kellan Cook

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since May 04, 2015
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Recent posts by Kellan Cook

C. Letellier wrote:
As for your foxtail it is barley foxtail. It is a common perenial weed. So no it doesn't die back in winter It is an indicator of soil troubles usually. It pushes most stuff out and is fairly tough to eliminate because of its large seed bank and the fact that those seeds have a long life plus being a perenial that tends to choke stuff out because of its dense growth. In this area it typically starts in fields at the bottom end of irrigated fields where they get to wet for to long killing most stuff off. Once started there it out competes most other pasture crops till it takes over. The seed is barbed and digs in meaning it can cause eye problems, mouth problems, digestive problems and skin problems in livestock. It is best avoided. Decent early soil builder. Permies compatible kill methods are mostly tough. Best is mechanical cultivation followed by a heavy seeding of something else. If it has to start from seed other things will out compete it. The control in this area for it at the bottom ends of field is to plant Garrison foxtail. Garrison will withstand the same over wet conditions and thrive and is good livestock feed. Problem is that Garrison is hard to establish. It does make good filter strips at the ends of fields if it is left undisturbed. Once Garrison is started it will push barely foxtail out over time anywhere that it gets enough water.

If I did not want to use roundup, what would be a typical procedure to convert this field of foxtail to say a perennial clover mix. I do not have a tractor, currently. I am wondering when would be the best time to seed would be? What would be the ideal species to choke out the foxtail. How would the timing look on this conversion (ie cut in fall or do nothing, cut in spring, seed in spring, etc)? I think my foxtail is the green foxtail. I am in zone 6a/b. I have a notion to use pigs as a disturbance prior to seeding. I do not think they will eat the foxtail, but am hoping that they will at least disturb the soil enough. Thoughts?
5 years ago
I have an entire field of foxtails right now. I am wondering do they die back to the ground in winter? It would seem pretty hard for anything to grow underneath their canopy next spring. I have tried to scythe them down now, but they are very dry and fight back with the scythe.

Sheet mulching them doesn't pose a problem as far as future seed growth?
5 years ago

Your right. It doesn't seem that he will be much help moving forward. I'll do the site visit, but I am not expecting much.

This guy only seemed to want to rotationally graze cows. In fact, it sounded like cows were the only livestock they supported. On less than 13 acres, cows for anything other than my personal family use doesn't seem profitable to me. Just not large enough.

Perhaps your right, maybe they only like to play with the big dogs. The way they come off is if your doing something degrading to your land then they will help you improve that. In my case, we aren't currently farming our land and don't have livestock yet so apparently they want nothing to do with us....

Thanks for the input.
5 years ago
I took him a brochure that was published by the USDA and also had the support of NRCS clearly printed on the brochure. The brochure was on silvopasture.

He just said "was that from another state?" To me it seems there is no educating to be done. They know what it is and according to him upper management will not support it.
5 years ago
I forgot one thing.

After we were done, he told me that I HAD to have a manure management plan by law. I asked if simply letting the manure fertilize the field counted he told me no.

Handed me some literature talking about CAFO and that was it. Now, I know we all don't have said plan. Is there any truth to what he is telling me? I thought compost, sunlight, and a prescribed grazing schedule would suffice?
5 years ago
Feeling discouraged after meeting with NRCS agent today...

Went to the office to fill out application and to request for a field visit to begin to establish our plan.

Went into detail describing our plans, again. Silvopasture on or slightly off contour with windbreaks and living fences. Mentioned we would like to have chickens and pigs pastured to start with...again he remarked about upper management frowning on silvopasture and swine. Apparently, the office in PA feels like swine are best kept in confinement. Another shock to hear from an agency I thought was looking out for the environment. He also stated that he has never funded a pastured poultry operation so perhaps that was a possibility in my plans...

Just a little background. We just bought this land during this summer and currently the field is in weeds since it wasn't cropped this year and we currently have no livestock. Not having livestock seemed to be a problem to him. He kept saying that my property needs to have a "resource concern.". That part confused me because in my opinion the neighboring farms spraying round up nearby and their livestock polluting my water supply is a resource concern of mine.

I went through the whole application and paperwork. Someone is set to come out in November. I must say I am not hopeful.

Those of you who have successfully been awarded funding for trees or hedgerows. How do you swing it? What is the " resource concerns " on your property.

Any thoughts of this feedback?

5 years ago
I am meeting again with him today.... I will try the brochure and see what he says..

Another topic I didn't bring up because I wasn't sure how to approach it is... swales. These are a great water retention proponent. How would I bring up the idea of swales? I do recall reading that NRCS does not recognize swales in the general sense of the word.
5 years ago
I hope I am posting this in the right forum. I did a search of 'NRCS' and found a large number in this heading.

After listening to a few talks on NRCS grants and reading several forums on this site, I have been excited to finally discuss my options with my local agent. Today was that initial conversation.

I avoided the word permaculture as some of you have suggested. I told him how we were new farmers and had a piece of land we wanted to convert to silvopasture using living fences, windbreaks, and water retention systems. I also mentioned that our field was previously cropped with soybean and that we would like to convert it to a perennial type pasture.

He sounded like they had programs directed towards everything I mentioned. However, he did mention that they have been told by the government not to support funding for silvopasture systems..... stating that if we were to run too many animals on that type of system many problems could arise. Was 'silvopasture' the wrong choice of words for this?

I know Grant Schultz has had much success with this agency, perhaps he will see this and can comment. If not, has anyone had experience dealing with NRCS and know if there is a way to get around this silvopasture roadblock. I am hoping to get some help with purchasing trees from them, but am not sure what the right angle would be with their disregard for what we call silvopasture.

Guess I will get started on the paperwork and see where this takes me. I would love some feedback/pointers on what to expect on this journey from those of you who have succeeded in using the NRCS for funding projects around your farm. Anyone else nervous about the rules we have to follow with these programs to get their funding?

5 years ago
I think your right. Green foxtail.

So I have a predominantly foxtail and lambs quarter pasture. It was previously a soybean field when the previous owner farmed it so this makes sense.

I would like to convert it to a more perennial based legume mixed fodder. This will be the basis for a future silvopasture system I have planned.

How do I convert this? I do not want to use herbicide or chemicals. I had my eye on the American Guinea Hog to pasture in this as a means to change the landscape. Followed by chickens and then the seed of my choice. I am wondering how this breed would do with foxtail. The extension link above doesn't sound promising. Does anyone have experience converting a field of foxtails to a more permaculture based setting? Any chance the guinea hogs can make food from this plant?

5 years ago

I am hoping to ID some plants that are in our field that we just purchased. We are in zone 6a/b and this field was previously used for soybeans. This is the first year post soybeans.

I think the non-grass is lambs quarter, but the majority of the field is the grass. Any ideas?

5 years ago