Higher leaf to stem ratio creates a better solar panel

total grazing Apr 02, 2021

Last blog I tried to explain how Total grazing creates more humus and how too much litter impairs new seedlings. 

Now, I am going to talk about how the higher leaf to stem ratio following a Total grazing creates a better solar panel which allows for higher forage production every year if done correctly.

Leaves produce energy through photosynthesis, stems consume energy by respiring.  The ratio of leaf to stem determines forage production and humus buildup.  Cattle also do better on a leafy pasture.

This increase in harvest efficiency means we can take more cow days from each grazing and give longer rest periods to every paddock.  What happens with longer rest periods? Higher total forage production!

What happens to better species composition? The best species are not grazed selectively and have a longer period to establish, grow and reproduce!

This means that, under Total grazing, we not only get more cow/days harvested per acre but also increase the following:

  • Humus buildup
  • Better species composition
  • Decreased interplant spacing
  • Increased stocking rate without overgrazing
  • No need to de stock in a short-term drought as you shield your ranch from the effect of drought thanks to the much longer rest period allowed by Total grazing.
  • Increased biodiversity

To better understand this, you need to know that an experiment done in 1955 of annual grasses cut with scissors has been the basis for most recommendations pertaining grazing.  I will explain in the next blog.


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