McKenzie Co. Soil Conservation Soil Health Summit Held Feb. 14
February 22, 2023 | View PDF
The McKenzie County Soil Conservation District presented the soil health summit on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at the Rough Rider Event Center, Watford City, ND. Burke Teichert spoke about grazing to close out the summit. He not only spoke about agriculture but he talked about life. Teichert said, "Follow your principles everywhere you go. Obey the principles but also be flexible about the context.
Teichert spoke on Tuesday about an article he wrote in 2013. This article was about more efficient grazing procedures. In it he discussed why ranchers don't learn how to graze properly. "It requires a change in mindset. When I started out, I was young and hardheaded. I felt if you don't raise Red Hereford, you're not raising cattle. Well, right now I am 80 years old and there can always be a better way, or a more efficient way, to do things." said Teichert. He continued by explaining that another reason farmers don't graze as efficiently as possible is because of social pressure. "What will the neighbors think? Also, there's more interest in cattle and soil and grazing and not all farmers understand the relative economic potential of grazing versus livestock production." explained Teichert.
He went on to discuss four ways to manage your graze land and explained that they are interconnected. "When you touch one you touch them all: production, finance, marketing, and people. Ranchers need to understand time and timing. Overstocking results in over grazing." said Teichert. Overgrazing is repeated defoliation of individual plants before they have had adequate recovery time. If given the right amount of time, they will recover.
Teichert then discussed overgrazing. He gave the advice to always allow adequate recovery time before returning to a previously grazed pasture. "The management of time and timing to reduce or eliminate overgrazing requires a large number of paddocks, especially in low rainfall areas. We expect adaptive grazing to accomplish more food and better livestock performance," said Teichert.
Teichert then spoke about his six principles of soil health, three revelations of adaptive stewardship, and four ecosystem processes. The six principles (or truths that can carry over to other areas of life) are: 1.Manage time and timing; 2. Short graze time and long recovery time; 3. Stock water, locations, and spacing; 4. Fencing for a high number of paddocks; 5. Begin with the end in mind; 6. Ask yourself, what are your practices doing to, or for, the ecosystem?
Teichert was raised on a family ranch in Western Wyoming. His father and grandfather were ahead of their time in understanding the importance of low input-low cost agriculture.
He went to BYU and got a degree in ag economics and ag business. For 2 1/2 years he spent time in Brazil on a mission trip for his church. He then went to the University of Wyoming for a masters in ag economics with emphasis on farm and ranch management. At the University of Wyoming, he learned methods for analyzing alternative methods of operating ranches, or bringing new practices to them. He served on the University of Wyoming agriculture, economics faculty for one year. He was in the artificial insemination industry and studied with some of the best animal scientists in America.
Since then, Teichert spent over three years as the general manager of the livestock division of UI Inc. in the Tri-Cities area of Washington, he spent over two years as a part-time assistant professor of ag economics at BYU, and part-time engaged in consulting work.
From 1980 to 1990 Teichert worked with welfare services department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He managed seven cattle ranches in Utah from 1990 to 2010. He was the general manager and later, vice president of the ag reserves, Deseret ranches. "No two ranches can be managed the same, thus the need for adaptive grazing and adaptive management to fit practices to the individual ranch.
Since retirement, he has worked as a contract manager, consultant, and speaker. He has traveled to speak extensively in the United States, and in parts of Canada, Central America, South America, England, Australia, and New Zealand.