SD Grassland Coalition

South Dakota Grassland Coalition Blog


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The health and safety of our family, friends, neighbors and network of social and business partners remains a priority. We know you are receiving a lot of messages and emails about COVID-19 prevention, impact, responses and recommendations.  We just want to briefly let you know, we are planning for a safe future, our programs at this point are scheduled, and will be modified based on recommendations of our partners.

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South Dakota Grassland Coalition to Hold Holistic Resource Management Schools for South Dakota Farm and Ranch


The South Dakota Grassland Coalition will kick off 2020 with two Holistic Resource Management schools for local producers. The first school will be held in Mitchell, SD on January 27-30th with another to follow in Wall, SD on February 10-13th. The schools will be organized in partnership with Crossroads Ranch Consulting and will cover topics ranging from financial management to understanding the connection between ecological processes and ranch profitability.

The upcoming schools are designed to help ranchers expand their knowledge base to cultivate resilient businesses and landscapes. The Crossroads Ranch Consulting schools are interactive so attendees will have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of other ranchers as well as share their own experiences. This workshop-style classroom setting creates an engaging learning environment and allows attendees to have input on the topics covered. The speakers Roland Kroos and Patrick Toomey will cover principles of Holistic Management that help ranchers improve their businesses from an economic and ecological standpoint.

Roland Kroos trained extensively with Allan Savory, the founder of Holistic Management, beginning in 1985 and started Crossroads Ranch Consulting in 1992. Roland is a certified educator with the Savory Institute and has a degree in Range and Wildlife Management from the University of Nebraska. Roland made sharing the principles of Holistic Resource Management into his life’s work after seeing the impact a holistic approach to ranching can have on families and the landscapes they steward.

Patrick Toomey, a recent addition to Crossroads Ranch Consulting, has a BS in rangeland ecology from the University of Wyoming and has extensive experience as a rangeland manager. After working in the oil and gas industry as a reclamation ecologist, Patrick became a range technician for the InterTribal Buffalo Council (ITBC) where he helped manage over 50 buffalo herds across the country. Patrick trained ITBC herd managers in holistic management principles like managing natural resources to prepare for drought and making soil health a part of every decision made on the landscape. “I am excited and appreciative for the opportunity to help ranchers across the Northern Plains and to educate people on another way to do things and provide and different perspective to their operation,” Patrick Toomey wrote in his bio on the Crossroads Ranch Consulting website.

These educational events are open for all experience levels and will cover a wide range of ideas. Sign up for one of the two schools to learn more about holistic decision making to improve your business, rangeland, and livestock management. “Holistic Resource Management training is a common-sense approach to managing farm and ranch businesses. HRM is the silver bullet our Ag community is looking for,“ said Dan Rasmussen, SDGC Education Coordinator, and Range Consultant.

The Mitchell school will be held at Blarney’s Sports Bar and Grill. The Wall school will take place in the Wall community center. Visit for more information on Holistic Resource Management and the work Roland Kroos and Patrick Toomey have done for farm and ranch producers.

Registration is $200 for members and $230 for non-members. Registration for non-members includes a year membership with the South Dakota Grassland Coalition. Lunch will be provided each day.

To register for the January 27th-30th school in Mitchell, SD, contact Judge Jessop at

To register for the February 10th-13th school in Wall, SD, contact Dan Rasmussen at


Holistic Management Roadshow Rolling through South Dakota

Learn how holistic management can help you plan for profit

All next week, the South Dakota Grassland Coalition will be traveling across the state spreading the word about holistic management and the benefit it can bring to those in agriculture.

“There are so many things we are unable to control like the weather or the markets but by using holistic management practices, we can help plan for those times of uncertainty,” explains Joshua Dukart, the featured guest speaker at the upcoming roadshows. Dukart is a third generation North Dakota rancher and has been certified in holistic management for over 10 years. A national speaker, Dukart says he is excited to bring some of the lessons he’s learned to South Dakota.

“I am humbled and honored to have been asked to come and speak during this five-day roadshow,” says Dukart. “I hope those who come are able to takeaway something from my failures and the experiences I’ve had while operating a ranch.”

Holistic management is about understanding the ecosystem as interconnected cycles to allow us to more effectively work with nature to improve the health of our land, animals, people, environment and finances. During his presentation at each location Dukart will highlight the three main components of holistic management.

The first pillar is resource management. This includes taking care of everything that is at your disposal including your land, soil, water, crops, animals and the tools you utilize in your day-to-day operations. The second focuses on financials and how you should plan to be profitable. Finally, Dukart says the third component involves your quality of life and the social side of ranching.

“I don’t want to speak for others, but I’ve found that when it comes down to it, it’s the relationships you form and the lifestyle that comes with ranching that is really important.” explains Dukart.

Through this presentation Dukart hopes he can help people lay out a vision for what they want out of their business.

 “We really want to be able to use these three pillars of holistic management to help people make decisions not just in the spur of the moment but to help them to make the rational choice during irrational times,” says Dukart. “For example, a few years ago we were going through a drought. Instead of just hoping for rain and making emotional decisions in the moment, we enacted our drought plan. We had already devised a grazing strategy and were ready to put it in place.”

Dukart says that while you hope to never have to use these types of plans, developing them is still just as important.

“It’s this time of planning and preparation that really helps you think through things,” explains Dukart. “By gathering information, you are arming yourself for the future.”

Whether you’ve been a rancher your whole life or are just starting out, Dukart encourages everyone to come and see what holistic management is all about.

“There is something here for everyone,” says Dukart. “Wherever you are in your career, I think you will be able to find value. I encourage you to bring your spouse, your kids, your business partners, anyone wanting to improve their soil, their profitability or their quality of life.”

To learn more about Joshua Dukart and the basics of holistic management, visit his website at

The Holistic Resource Management Roadshow

Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. with the event following from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Lunch will be provided. The event is free for all current South Dakota Grassland Coalition members. The cost for non-members if $30, which includes a one-year membership to the South Dakota Grassland Coalition.

Monday, December 16th 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

(CST) Watertown– Codington County Extension Complex

RSVP Contact: Jan Rounds or Pete Bauman

(605) 882-5140 or


Tuesday, December 17th 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

(CST) Chamberlain AmericInn-Call/Text Judge

Jessop (605) 280-0127



Wednesday, December 18th 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

(MST) Belle Fourche, Branding Iron

Steakhouse Call/text Dan Rasmussen 605-685-3315



Thursday, December 19th 10:00 am – 3:00 pm (MST)

Hot Springs-Mueller Civic Center Call/text Dan

Rasmussen 605-685-3315 or


Friday, December 20th 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (MST)

Faith– Legion Hall Call/Text Bart Carmichael

605-545-0335 or


Our Amazing Grasslands | Rittberger

The Our Amazing Grasslands video for August 2019 is live! Visit to learn more about this month’s producers in our Grasslands Planner.

Our Amazing Grasslands~ The Cammack Family

Our Amazing Grasslands Cammack

“We’ve planted thirty thousand trees and a hundred years from now the only evidence of Amy and I being here will be the trees and the kids and the wildlife…”
-Gary Cammack

watch here

In our sixth video release of 2019, we visit the Cammack Family ranch in Union Center, South Dakota. The Cammack received the Leopold Conservation Award in 2018. The SD Grassland Coalition partnered with the organizations listed below to enhance the grassland planner with a release of a short video story each month during 2019 promoting healthy soils, grasslands, and ecosystems. Please enjoy the Our Amazing Grasslands feature story for May 2019 featuring the Limpert Family.

2019 Grassland Stewardship Communications Project Partners: The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever, South Dakota State University, Audubon Dakota, Ducks Unlimited, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, SD Game, Fish and Parks, SD Soil Health Coalition, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and SD Grassland Coalition.

USDA is an Equal Opportunity Provider, Employer and Lender.

Governor Kristi Noem Announces Leopold Conservation Award Winner

April 22, 2019
Noem Contact: Kristin Wileman
SD Cattlemen Contact: Jodie Anderson
SD Grassland Coalition Contact: Jim Faulstich
Sand County Foundation Contact: Casey Langan


Noem Announces Leopold Conservation Award Winner

Award recognizes landowners for outstanding stewardship

PIERRE, S.D. –  In conjunction with Earth Day, Governor Kristi Noem today announced that Johnson Farms of Frankfort has been selected for the 2019 South Dakota Leopold Conservation Award.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist, Aldo Leopold, this award recognizes private landowners who inspire others with their dedication to the land, water, and wildlife resources in their care.

In South Dakota, the award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association and the South Dakota Grassland Coalition. Johnson Farms will be presented with the $10,000 award, and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold at the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association’s Annual Convention in December.

“Farmers and ranchers across South Dakota know how to balance agriculture production with conservation,” said Noem. “The intentional innovation, stewardship, and land ethic of the Johnsons and other producers ensures that our natural resources will be available for future generations.”

“The Johnsons are demonstrating how crops and cattle can work together to support their multiple-generation family farm while improving their natural resources and the bottom line,” said Steve Ollerich, president of South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association. “We congratulate them as our 2019 Leopold Conservation Award recipients and applaud their conservation ethic.”

“The Johnson’s focus on conservation, while managing multiple enterprises on their family farm, is commendable and we congratulate them on receiving the 2019 South Dakota Conservation Award,” said Jim Faulstitch, chairman of the South Dakota Grassland Coalition. “We look forward to continuing to highlight their conservation story throughout the year.”

“Leopold Conservation Award recipients are at the forefront of a movement by America’s farmers and ranchers to simultaneously achieve economic and environmental success,” said Kevin McAleese, president and CEO of Sand County Foundation.

Finalists for the award included Bien Ranch of Veblen in Marshall County, Blair Brothers Angus Ranch of Vale in Butte County, and Hefner Ranch of Whitewood in Lawrence County.

Award applicants were judged based on their demonstration of improved resource conditions, innovation, long-term commitment to stewardship, sustained economic viability, community and civic leadership, and multiple use benefits.

About the winner:

Alan and Mickie Johnson, with their son Brian and his wife Jamie, farm 1,800 acres of cropland and 500 acres of grassland in Spink County. Agricultural conservation practices and raising cattle make the Johnsons more efficient without buying more land.

The farm’s roots trace back to 160 acres that Johnson’s Swedish immigrant grandfather homesteaded more than a century ago. The Johnsons use a mix of old school practices and modern technology to leave the land in better shape for the next generation.

Alan Johnson adopted no-till farming practices in 1986 when abandoning the plow, disk and cultivator was much against the norm. Despite what the neighbors thought, Alan saw that tilling a field to rid it of weeds was also depleting it of moisture. By mid-summer, if rain was scarce, crops suffered.

By coupling no-till practices with cover crops, the Johnsons have improved water infiltration and soil health, increasing productivity.

The Johnsons also find that a diverse rotation of their corn, soybean, wheat, oat, and barley crops, and leaving crop residue in place, minimizes agricultural runoff, naturally eases pest management, and provides wildlife habitat. To further address soil erosion and salinity problems, the Johnsons enrolled land in the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Conservation Stewardship Program.

Realizing that different areas of each field have varying productivity, the Johnsons switched to a variable-rate fertilizer system in 2004. Applying the precise amount of nutrients on the soil saves time and natural resources, and delivers a better return on investment. Since the switch, the Johnsons have won a yield contest held by the South Dakota Soybean Association.

The Johnsons also raise a herd of Angus beef cattle. Whenever possible, the herd is allowed to graze on mature cover crops and corn stubble, creating a cooperative relationship between the cattle and the land. The cover crops provide feed, and the cattle naturally fertilize the soil with their waste.

Grazing used to mean turning the cattle out to pasture for the summer and bringing them home in the fall. It was easy, but it took a toll on the quality and variety of the grass. The Johnsons now rotationally graze their cattle and closely monitor grazing conditions and the timing of their calving season.

While the longtime crop farmers admit that managing grass and cattle requires additional time, the results are healthier land and a stronger bottom line.

For more information on the award, visit


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Contact SDGC

SD Grassland Coalition
221 N. Main
Box 401
Presho, SD 57568

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