Brad Sand is happy with the current state of his pastures, despite the unfavorable dry weather.

“Everything actually looks good. The pastures look really good because of all the rotation and all of that. All the native grasses are pretty tough and they’ll do me good,” Sand said.

The North Dakota Grazing Coalition held its annual summer tour on Sand’s ranch, located in Ellendale, N.D., on June 24.

And while the topic of drought was brought up on several occasions throughout the tour, Sand believes his management practices have cushioned the blow of the adverse conditions.

Over eighty people were in attendance for the grazing tour. Photo taken June 24, 2021 in Ellendale, N.D. (Emily Beal / Agweek)
Over eighty people were in attendance for the grazing tour. Photo taken June 24, 2021 in Ellendale, N.D. (Emily Beal / Agweek)
Rotational grazing is important to Sand’s operation, allowing his native grasses to have a break and a period of regrowth when the cattle are moved off of them and onto another site. This sitting period allows the roots of the forage to grow.

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“If you got an inch of grass on the top of the ground, that’s how much roots you have. So if you have 8 to 10 inches on top of the ground, that’s how long your roots are and it's much more likely to be in the water,” Sand said.

The 82 attendees to the event were taken all over Sand’s ranch and visited his 18 native grass pastures. Kevin Sedivec, Extension rangeland management specialist for North Dakota State University, was in attendance and talked about the grass that inhabited certain pastures.

There are eighteen pastures on Bra Sand's ranch that are utilized for grazing. Photo taken June 24, 2021 in Ellendale, N.D. (Emily Beal / Agweek)
There are eighteen pastures on Bra Sand's ranch that are utilized for grazing. Photo taken June 24, 2021 in Ellendale, N.D. (Emily Beal / Agweek)
He said this was a very bad year for the growth of sweet clover, as it is a grass that germinates in the fall. Due to 2020’s extremely dry fall season, the forage did not get a good chance to germinate.

“The fall of 2020 was the driest fall I can remember,” Sedivec said.

Desa Sand and her boyfriend, Logan Wolter, attended Ranching for Profit in Billings, Mont. Through this program, the pair was able to learn about regenerative agriculture and bring back their knowledge to the ranch. The Sands have been incorporating what the two learned and have been happy with the results.

“It taught us everything from grazing management to the finance side of things. They taught us to have a grazing plan and a drought plan in place, which has been nice for this year,” Wolter said.

There are eighteen pastures on Bra Sand's ranch that are utilized for grazing. Photo taken June 24, 2021 in Ellendale, N.D. (Emily Beal / Agweek)
There are eighteen pastures on Bra Sand's ranch that are utilized for grazing. Photo taken June 24, 2021 in Ellendale, N.D. (Emily Beal / Agweek)
However, one of the biggest takeaways from the program was lessons pertaining to a rancher’s overall quality of life.

“They teach a lot about quality of life. With the grazing plan we have now, if we wanted to go to the lake and leave the cows alone for today we could,” Desa Sand said.