Partnerships allow two people or entities to pool their strengths with the combination stronger than either could be on their own. The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture and the federal Natural Resource Conservation Service have pooled their expertise in Kentucky for many years to provide the best possible information to farmers on grazing strategies for their livestock.
“We have a common goal — we want profitable, environmentally sound and locally beneficial grazing systems on Kentucky farms regardless of the species you are trying to raise,” said Jimmy Henning, associate dean for Extension and associate director of the UK Cooperative Extension Service.
“We feel like the best product we can offer is not going to come fully from us or fully from NRCS, so we work together providing a product for our producers,” he said. “The product I'm talking about is a grazing system that does a good job with available forages, lays out paddocks efficiently and at a least cost, and puts together water systems.”
Mike Hubbs, NRCS state conservationist, said it is always better to work together because it allows more conservation and Extension education to reach producers.
“I try to keep it simple; Extension is your education arm and NRCS is your technical arm,” he said. “Conservation planning is our bread and butter and what we bring to the table to provide a grazing management program to, first and foremost, provide optimum forage to the livestock, which will benefit the producer and benefit the soil and land resource.”
“Our mission statement is helping people help the land, and with our partnership with Cooperative Extension and other partners we hope to do that,” Hubbs said.
Henning said the two agencies have worked together for many years beginning with representatives of both traveling together to garner information on grazing management programs in other states and progressing to holding field days and meetings that are co-planned and co-conducted.
UK's forage-based research farm in Woodford County, which is also home to the new U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Research Unit, is a tremendous assist to the partnership, Henning said. Some of the other strengths UK brings to the program are its rotational grazing research, new forage variety and species research and evaluation, and grazing tolerance and preference research for cattle, horses and goats.
“We develop resources and programs to take the information from our research and put it into your hands,” Henning said. “NRCS works to ensure the technical aspects for grazing systems are in place. We hope Kentucky's farmers have benefited and will continue to benefit from this great relationship between NRCS and the University of Kentucky for years.”