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Best Management Practices Model Farm

Maintaining soil cover and preventing erosion can be difficult on small acreage horse farms, but the MARE Center’s newly-installed model farm project will serve as a demonstration site for small farm managers to learn about practices and tools to preserve their land while enhancing their horses’ health.

The stone dust heavy use area in the BMP model farm.

Heavy use area
The stone dust heavy use area in the BMP model farm.

The demonstration site has two adjacent small acreage pasture systems with four horses in each. One will be grazed continuously with no rest or rotation, while the other features a rotational grazing system of subdivided paddocks, two vegetative heavy use areas, and a rock-based heavy use area. Rotational grazing maximizes forage use and productivity while maintaining groundcover to prevent erosion and minimizing nutrient runoff and weedy species infestations. On the model farm, the differences between rotational grazing systems and continuous grazing are visible to visitors and highlight what small-acreage horse owners can do on a budget to make the most of their land.

The rotational pasture system showcases a variety of both temporary and permanent fence types to enable land managers to decide which fences might work best for their farms. The budget for the project was set at a price point small farms can afford.

Ultimately, the model farm is a template from which small acreage horse owners can base their own environmentally-friendly projects. 

A grazed rotational paddock (left) and a rested rotational paddock (right) at the BMP model farm. The paddock on the right has been rested for two weeks while the paddock on the left was being grazed. The grazing system features four primary paddocks through which horses are rotated.

BMProtationalpastures
A grazed rotational paddock (left) and a rested rotational paddock (right) at the BMP model farm. The paddock on the right has been rested for two weeks while the paddock on the left was being grazed. The grazing system features four primary paddocks through which horses are rotated.