Land that has been left idle for several years without proper management may need assistance in returning the soil and flora to a productive state. Whether your goal is to rejuvenate pasture, establish a prairie, or manage a woodlot, a farm lease arrangement with a custom livestock grazier can help accomplish your goals while producing income. However, the simple presence of livestock will not by itself rejuvenate idle land and may cause greater harm. Using livestock requires intensive management, which means establishing a lease agreement that ensures sustainable grazing techniques.
A successful rotational grazier will likely be aware of the needs for intensive livestock management, but it is still important to address proper grazing techniques and to provide protections for the land in the lease. In addition to typical lease provisions discussed in the chapter on “The Basics,” some other considerations when leasing land for grazing include:
- Ensuring the use of a rotational grazing system
- Erecting fences
- Improving the existing forages
- Creating an available water supply
- Protecting ponds and streams
- Restrictions on livestock in certain fields (cattle can be advantageous and pasture and grasslands, while goats are more appropriate in woodlots).
It is also worth mentioning the lease term specifically here. Proper livestock grazing management requires a lot of time, labor, and money invested in a property. This means to ensure a profitable arrangement, as well as one that rejuvenates the land, a long-term lease, probably six to ten years, is needed.
For information on encouraging your farm tenant to integrate livestock into a crop operation visit the Integrating Livestock page.
For more information on how livestock can be used to rejuvenate soils and on developing a lease arrangement for this endeavor check out Greg Judy’s website and books, No Risk Ranching: Custom Grazing on Leased Land and Comeback Farms: Rejuvenating Soils, Pastures and Profits with Livestock Grazing Management.