By Buz Kloot
I am a scientist that works out of Columbia, South Carolina, so I am not a farmer or rancher in South Dakota. The reality is that while I can try to empathize with SD farmers and ranchers, I’ll never be able to experience the anxiety that producers experience when facing extreme weather. Our rangeland science friends, Emily Rohrer and Stand Boltz at the NRCS produce the South Dakota Grassland Productivity Outlook on a regular basis and, I believe that this is a must-read for any producer. Things are looking good in parts of the west, but there are parts where spotty rain showers have left some parts dry. Looking to the east, especially the southeastern parts of South Dakota, things look really dry and no doubt this is cause for some anxiety.
Dr. Dwayne Beck once told me back in 2013 “The job of the producer is to harvest as much sunlight and rainfall as possible” (my paraphrase) and it took me a long time to process what he said, but I think I have learned to understand what he was saying. “What does that have to do with the productivity outlook?” you ask me. Ms. Rohrer and Mr. Bolz give us the answer in the final paragraph – what do they say? They are talking about the SD Grassland Coalition Grazing Schools in Chamberlain/Oacoma on September 12-14 and they mention that the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition is also hosting their annual Soil Health School near Garretson, South Dakota. Their message? (again, my paraphrase) “weather will always be unpredictable: you can’t control the weather, but you can educate yourself so that you can learn how to manage so that your land can infiltrate and retain more moisture in the soil, which allows you to harvest more sunlight”. Put another way: if we educate ourselves to understand how profoundly management can change our soils, we can make the land more resilient.
I cannot tell you how fortunate South Dakota is to have such an amazing network of devoted volunteer producers, professionals, and partner organizations dedicated to educating producers. I have been fortunate to meet countless producers who have told me how their lives changed when they attended one of these workshops. In these workshops, you will find kindness, empathy, and a great willingness for people to listen to you and who will want to come alongside you and help you.
You can’t control the weather, but by educating yourself, you could literally change your ground, and the course of your life for the better.
Best wishes for the rest of the 2023 growing season!
For more info on the SD Grassland Coalition Grazing School, click here.
Visit these “Growing Resilience Through Our Soils” information pages:
1. Podcast page for drought planning fact sheets, Q&As, news, podcasts and more.
2. Video page to watch videos of other ranchers’ journeys toward improved rangeland/pasture.
3.Follow Growing Resilience on social media:
4. Our homepage: www.growingresiliencesd.com