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Abstract

Environmental impacts of agricultural production can be intense and widespread. Uniquely, agriculture has the potential to impact surrounding environments, communities, and people both positively and negatively. Implementation of best management practices (BMPs) can increase positive impacts while mitigating the negative ones. BMPs are intended to minimize environmental consequences of agricultural production while increasing operation profitability (Paudel et al., 2008). They are also backed by research to be the most effective, environmentally sustainable, and economically efficient way to manage an agricultural enterprise long-term (Gillespie et al., 2007; Paudel et al., 2008). A newer BMP within the beef industry, adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) grazing focuses on grazing cattle in a way that improves animal and forage productivity, increases water infiltration and reduces water runoff while potentially sequestering more soil organic carbon than other grazing methods (Park et al., 2017; Stanley et al., 2018). AMP grazing is an intensive grazing style in which lightweight, portable fencing systems are used to move animals strategically around a large pasture or range, allowing for dense grazing interspersed by long periods of recovery for the land. AMP grazing is commonly grouped with other adaptive grazing methods such as Holistic Management (HM), High-Intensity Short Duration Grazing, and Management-Intensive Grazing (Mann and Sherren, 2018) which show promise for sustainability and regeneration (Teague and Barnes, 2017). While investment in grazing systems research has been substantial, few detailed studies have gathered broad understandings of rancher perspectives regarding the efficacy or social, cultural, and economic dimensions of alternative grazing systems (Becker et al., 2016; Gosnell et al., 2020). Current AMP grazing research is limited and focused on the environmental and production benefits of the practice (Park et al., 2017; Stanley et al., 2018; Teague and Barnes, 2017). While some studies have explored perceptions of AMP by adopters, empirical studies on social and economic dimensions of AMP (and HM more broadly) are limited (e.g. Stinner et al. 1997; Roncoli et al. 2007; McLachlan and Yestrau 2009; Richards and Lawrence 2009; Alfaro-Arguello et al. 2010; Sherren et al. 2012; Ferguson et al. 2013; Mann and Sherren 2018; Gosnell et al. 2020). Additionally, little is still known about the wider beef industry’s knowledge and perceptions of AMP grazing or their willingness-to-adopt the grazing style. The purpose of this survey is to better understand current utilization, knowledge, and perceptions, in order to inform a study of willingness-to-accept (WTA) AMP grazing. To understand its current utilization, we analyze grazing management with questions crafted to allow for both researcher-identification and producer-identification of AMP grazing. Additional sections of our survey analyze expected and experienced barriers to AMP adoption, desired improvements within the operation broadly, current BMP adoption, and marketing claims; all of which we anticipate helping explain and motivate AMP adoption. Our in-depth analysis of beef producers’ utilization, knowledge, and perceptions was conducted from a national online survey of 459 producers. This material is based upon work supported by the VF Foundation, Wrangler, and Timberland and is part of the wider “Adaptive Multi-Paddock Grazing Research Project” based at Arizona State University. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions expressed in this material are those of the author(s).

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