Training for the future of dairy grazing
Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, University of Missouri, and NRCS partner on climatesmart technical training and outreach to historically underserved producers
Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship (DGA) partnered with the University of Missouri (MU) and Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) in a new cooperative agreement that aims to increase understanding and adoption of climatesmart managed grazing, precision technology, and NRCS programs among beginning dairy farmers and other historically underserved producers.
DGA is a nonprofit organization that administers a federally registered National Apprenticeship in managed grazing dairy production. The program combines on-farm employment and training under an approved Mentor with formal courses and networking opportunities to provide a career pathway into dairy farming.
“The idea is to both shorten the learning curve for our Apprentices and expand outreach beyond the Apprenticeship by integrating PaddockTrac to enhance management on different Mentor farms across the DGA network,” says Project Manager, Ashley Pierce.
PaddockTrac, developed by MU, is a mobile application that uses sonar to measure and store forage height 50 times per second along with GPS location on the user’s smartphone. The phone uploads data to a GIS-based website that assigns the data to an individual paddock. Once completed, a producer can login to see forage yield in each paddock, sorted from high to low, which allows them to be proactive in decision-making.
Specifically, during the two-year cooperative agreement, project partners will:
• Provide eight Apprentices on Mentor farms in eight states with technical training and support on using PaddockTrac technology
• Coordinate a series of public events on participating farms that focus on managed grazing, PaddockTrac demonstration, and NRCS programs
• Conduct analysis of impacts of PaddockTrac implementation on key economic performance metrics on participating farms
• Deliver presentations on climate- smart managed grazing, Paddock- Trac and analysis of enhanced management, and NRCS programs at national conferences
• Conduct outreach and improve access to training opportunities and resources for historically underserved producers, including Spanish speakers According to Executive Director, Joe Tomandl, III, the project builds on over a decade of DGA development. “With a growing network of partners and more than 200 Mentor farms in 15 states, DGA is uniquely positioned to reach audiences at the margins of conventional Ag outreach and education. Overall we are excited to see where this relationship can lead.”