ST. PAUL, Minn. – Mob grazing? Native pollinators? Could be names of garage bands, but we’re actually talking about ways farmers can improve biological activity on their farms. Two upcoming workshops for crop and livestock farmers will focus on using mob grazing methods to build soil and increase ecosystem health and how to create the right habitat to attract insects and other pollinators. The workshops, sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), will be held January 13, 2011 in St. Cloud.

Mob Grazing - What Ultra High Stock Density Can Do for You will be taught by Terry Gompert, an extension grazing expert and cattleman from Nebraska. The mob grazing approach uses large concentrations of animals to graze in small paddocks for very short periods of time, sometimes only for a few hours or a day. The results are better nutrient distribution, weed control, soil health and condition, pasture composition, and forage utilization. The workshop will emphasize beef cattle but dairy, sheep and goat producers may also find it informative.

Creating Habitat for Native Pollinators on Your Farm will feature entomologist Jennifer Hopwood, Midwest Pollinator Outreach Coordinator for The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and Minnesota fruit grower Jackie Hoch. More than 30 percent of the food in the American diet depends on pollination services provided by insects, according to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but even products like milk and meat as insects produce the seed for alfalfa and clovers, which are part of most livestock diets. While the modern agricultural landscape in the Upper Midwest provides few food sources for pollinators, this workshop will highlight many simple and interesting ways farmers can provide the habitat and food sources they need.

Both workshops are scheduled January 13, 2011 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at a cost of $35 each. Registration materials are available at or by calling 651-201-6012.