One of the keys to a successful grasslands farm is what we call “soil armor”. A vibrant living soil is the foundation for good grasses and it is at its productive best when it has cover over its head. The armor makes it warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer, and saves its moisture from the drying wind and sun. What it’s really doing is protecting the home of the soil creatures – be they microbial or the larger versions.
This time of year, that armor starts with the grasses of the previous warm season. We were lucky in that regard because fall rains were plentiful and the grasses recovered quickly from the dry heat that August always brings. Those grasses become standing hay that provide some dry matter for the cattle through the winter but more importantly, put that roof and wind-break over the soil. When we see spring approaching, we shred it down, and it then becomes a blanket, and that is when you see the benefit of the armor – green stuff is revealed that was previously hidden by the armor. As the blanket dissolves into the soil, it provides food for the soil life which in turns grows more green armor. In your electronic version of the newsletter, the 3 photos below show the three stages described here.
Nature is an amazing thing.