Livestock Grazing on Croplands for Economic and Soil Health Benefits (free housing)

College of Agricultural Sciences

San Luis Valley Research Center

Rio Grande 


(Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Saguache)

Primary Topic:

Food and Agriculture

Other Topics:

Economic and Community Development, Natural Resources and Sustainability

Lead Mentor:  

Zach Czarnecki

Farm Manager

Internship Overview:

The San Luis Valley is unique in that it is one of the largest, high altitude (7,600 ft.), irrigated crop production areas in the United States. The area is surrounded by 12,000-14,000 foot mountains. The valley has a rich agricultural economy that includes vegetable crops, grains, hay and livestock. As with many places across the western US the valley has a limited water supply that has been dwindling in recent years. As resources become more scarce, local producers must decide what is worth growing and what practices are economically and environmentally sustainable. One of the emerging practices is integrating livestock grazing on croplands not being used for cash crops that historically did not have livestock. A major challenge of this integrating livestock and croplands is that many producers specialize in one or the other, creating a network of producers from both the livestock and crop “worlds” would increase cooperation.

Goals, Scope and Objectives:

At the end of the internship intern should have an understanding of….
Animal care as it relates to nutrition and grazing
Rotational Grazing and managing high AUM numbers in small acreages
The various types of Agriculture in the San Luis Valley
Economic component of summer grazing livestock rented crop land
Soil health metrics and tools producers can use to improve these metrics
Working relationships with local producers
Assist in creating a network of Ranchers and Farmers who are interested in cooperating for the purpose of adding value to both operations

Scope: The San Luis Valley Research Center will provide a small acreage fencing system with livestock that the intern would be responsible for moving around the property so that the animals receive proper forage nutrition, Decisions on where to move the grazing area would be a collaborative effort between the intern and mentor team. At the end of the internship the intern would conduct an economic analysis comparing cost of forage to market value of animals before and after the summer grazing season. Additionally the intern would work with the mentor team to canvas the local producer community to help create a network or list that could connect parties who want to exchange good/services.

With which stakeholder group(s) will the intern work?

CSU San Luis Valley Research Center
CSU San Luis Valley Area Extension
Local livestock producersLocal
Cropland managers
Local livestock marketing groups
Conservation District board members
Water district board members
Local Agribusiness leaders

What student learning outcomes do you anticipate and what are the opportunities for professional development?

The connection between agricultural practices in rural areas and the food that is available in grocery stores, hands on experience with livestock animals.
Opportunities to develop working relationships with stakeholders, introduction to research methods and economic analysis, Knowledge of water resources in Colorado,
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