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Ranch economics, range health on tap

The ranch is six miles south of Melvin on RR 2028. Turn south on CR 122, and go three miles to the ranch headquarters. Registration starts at 8 a.m. The program begins at 8:30 a.m.

"Like the drought of the 1950s, the current drought has taken a toll on the health and productivity of our rangelands," said John Walker, resident director of research at San Angelo's Texas A&M University System Research and Extension Center.

"The purpose of this conference is to update ranchers on how to overcome the effects of drought and overgrazing on the health and economic viability of their rangelands. Hands-on information will be given on management procedures that anyone can apply to reverse the downward trend caused by the current drought.

"The Ford Ranch is a prime example of the positive message we are trying to get across. Through planned grazing, many desirable grasses have returned over much of this 32,000-acre property that's home to 1,200 cows,” Walker said. β€œIt's also a top hunting place that caters to over 400 wildlife enthusiasts annually. Through years of proper management, this operation demonstrates where we'd all like to be in the ranch business in terms of range health during dry times."

The program is sponsored by Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and the Texas Chapter of Holistic Ranch Management.

The one-day conference will feature on-site presentations dealing with water and mineral recycling and energy flow and vegetation dynamics. Topics will include water on rangelands, a demonstration of a precipitation simulator, site and soil stability, and how to read the landscape.

Speakers include Forrest Armke, Ford Ranch manager, who will talk about managing for rangeland health on the Ford Ranch.

Another on-site presentation includes these topics on rangeland recovery: the use of ripping and reseeding, managing brush and weeds, and the role of livestock on recovery efforts.

The field day ends by 4:30 p.m. It is made possible by a grant from the Texas Coalition Grazinglands Conservation Initiative and is also supported by the G.R. White Trust.

Registration is $25 per person.

For further information and to register, contact Peggy Jones at (512) 858-2761 or e-mail her at [email protected].

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