Regenerative Farmer and Ag Instructor, Palmer, KS
Lucinda Stuenkel was suddenly promoted to Farm Manager in 2010 when her husband and his brother/farm partner were killed in an accident. Shortly after her husband’s death, she used his ticket to attended a workshop by Josh Dukart at Arbor Day Farms that used the Allan Savory book and workbook. The biggest decision was to update the farm infrastructure so that women and children could operate the farm. Improvements included a maternity barn, perimeter fencing around cropland, cross-fencing pastures for rotational grazing, water developments, cover crops between each commodity crop, dedicated cover crop fields for a constant series of multi-species covers for grazing, and pollinator strips. These same techniques can be used by farmers needing to have an off-farm job, or to semi-retire, or have fewer employees due to children leaving for college or partners retiring, etc. You, too, can be successfully
Lucinda grew up on a dairy where the cows were regularly rotated to fresh pastures. Cattle rotated to fresh pastures in a timely manner learn to start grazing as soon as they enter the pasture (rather than run the perimeter), and they choose to eat more varieties of plants, including weeds. Lucinda can still move the cows by calling them and they follow her. Lacking the strength to easily pull a calf and carry it to the house to warm like her husband did, she implemented many management techniques that have reduced the percentage of pulled calves to 1% per year, and 90% calve during daylight hours. Respiratory infections among calves have been reduced from 6% to 0.5%. All of this was done by carefully observing the cattle and trying to reduce their stressors.
The Stuenkel Family had been no-tilling wheat, corn, milo, soybeans, alfalfa, and brome since 2001. We added the first cover crop of spring oats no-tilled into wheat stubble in 2007, and were surprised to be able to graze it from November through February. It was only natural to keep adding diversity and multiple species to our covers primarily for grazing. Then we noticed big improvements in soil aggregation, soil health, and reduced erosion.