Grazing Land Initiative/Sullivan Trail Resource
Sullivan Trail Resource Conservation and Development Council
Basin Program Funds:
Traditional agricultural practices are responsible for a significant amount
of nonpoint source pollution entering the Great Lakes basin, including fertilizers
and pesticides trapped in sediment particles. Intensive Rotational Grazing systems
(IRG), also known as short duration grazing systems, are effective best management
practices (BMPs) for controlling agricultural runoff but livestock producers
need to know the environmental and economic advantages of IRG systems.
Agricultural causes of water quality impairment include manure spreading and
storage, barnyard runoff, livestock in streams, pesticide and fertilizer application,
and row crops. These activities are responsible for introducing excessive sediments,
nutrients, pathogens, pesticides and organic matter into rivers and lakes through
runoff. Runoff from marginal crop land and existing pasture and hayfields can
be reduced substantially through the use of Intensive Rotational Grazing systems.
IRG has been credited with reducing annual soil loss by as much as 9.4 tons
per acre. If extrapolated over the one percent total crop land and pasture farmed
within New York state's Lake Ontario basin, 2.223 million acres, could save
as much as 208,979 tons of soil annually.
Intensive Rotational Grazing BMPs include interior and perimeter fencing to
prevent livestock from entering streams, pasture seeding/renovation, installation
of livestock watering facilities and introducing short duration grazing systems.
The Sullivan Trail Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC and D)
established a Grazing Committee which, in turn, identified and selected participating
farms. The RC and D prepared grazing plans for all participating farms. Each
plan identified IRG system BMPs applicable to the respective farm. Over the
course of the summer project personnel laid out and began installation of BMPs
on the participating farms. The Seneca County Water Quality Committee sponsored
a tour of one of the farms and held a grazing workshop at another. Additiona14l
activities include completing BMP installation and a pasture walk for the fall
The IRG system BMPs are expected to last ten years during
which they will save 8,800 tons of soil, 88,000 pounds of phosphorus and 17,600
pounds of nitrogen. Additionally, 85 livestock producers and elected officials
received information about the project during four workshops/farm tours. These
efforts will continue. Project personnel estimate introducing an additional
250 farmers and elected officials to IRG system BMPs in the future.
Contact: Sullivan Trail RC&D Council, (607) 776-9631