The Economics of Irrigated Pasture Using Management Intensive Grazing Versus Traditional Cropping Systems in East Central Idaho
Mark Orchard, Rexburg, Idaho, defended his thesis, “The Economics of Irrigated Pasture Using Management Intensive Grazing Versus Traditional Cropping Systems in East Central Idaho,” Friday, August 6, 2004. Orchard is an Animal Science Instructor at Brigham Young University – Idaho.
As pressure against grazing on public ground continues to mount, modern day ranchers are forced to evaluate alternatives. In Idaho, roughly 36 million acres are controlled and managed by federal and state agencies. The remaining 16.7 million acres are privately owned. According to the Idaho Department of Agriculture statistical report, of the 16.7 million acres of privately held ground, 20%, or 3.493 million acres, of available crop land is irrigated. As ranchers consider alternatives for grazing livestock, irrigated pasture is one important option to consider.
“Systems thinking mandates thinking outside of the box,” Orchard said. “To stay financially viable, today’s rancher must be willing to look at alternatives to traditional grazing practices. Management Intensive Grazing offers a potential alternative for increased economic return.”
“Mr. Orchard’s research demonstrates potential for Idaho ranchers to utilize irrigated pasture,” Ted Schroeder, major professor said. “However, his work also clearly shows that to be profitable relative to competing crops such as wheat or alfalfa, irrigated pasture requires intensive management and animal production performance levels that would justify greater than traditional pasture lease value. These results are very important for Idaho ranchers contemplating alternatives to public grazing land.”