In less than a month the Summer Olympics will be kicking off in Rio de Janeiro, and if you’re lucky, perhaps you’ll find enough time to catch some of the world’s most dedicated athletes going for the gold.

Of course, what we’re seeing is a culmination of years of intense training as these athletes continually push their minds and bodies to improve their performance yet another notch.

When it comes to your no-till operation, how hard are you pushing yourself to improve?

Given the poor conditions of pastures and fields he’s seen across North America the last several years, livestock consultant Allen Williams believes farmers and ranchers need to be disruptive with their agricultural operations much in the way elite athletes change up their exercise routines to keep from plateauing.

As you’ll see in our main feature story below, Williams is a proponent of adaptive grazing systems that emphasize diverse forage species, flexible stocking rates and longer rest periods for pastures as animals are moved more often. It’s a move away from grazing on monocultures and letting animals roam unfettered across fields.

This idea of disruption might sound a bit counterintuitive to those of you committed to no-till. But Williams says ranchers can be more disruptive, in a beneficial way, by:

  • Altering stocking densities throughout the year, and periods of the year, rather than keeping the same densities all the time.
  • Not moving rotations through your farm or ranch in the same pattern every time. Alter patterns so you’re not hitting each pasture at the exact same time of the year, every year.
  • Altering grazing heights up or down, and altering rest periods.
  • Altering the order of plant species from time to time as you move them through pastures.

Mother Nature, of course, is no slouch when it comes to disruption. Williams recalls working with a farmer utilizing high-density paddocks who was distressed about a big rainfall that degraded soil conditions.

“He said, ‘Oh my gosh, what are we going to do here? What’s going to happen?’” Williams recalls. “And I said ‘Let’s do nothing. Let’s wait and see, and give it some rest and recovery.’ The ranch ended up tripling their forage dry-matter production through that disruption.

“Now do you want to continuously do that?  No. But my point is planned disruptions can be very good.”

What kind of beneficial ‘disruptions’ are you planning for your no-till operation in the next growing season? Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below or e-mail me.