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Brown Hereford cows standing in a line in a field facing the camera Brown Hereford cows standing in a line in a field facing the camera

Quantifying the Advantages of Multi-Paddock (AMP) Grazing Compared to Conventional Continuous Grazing in the U.S. Southeast & Northern Great Plains

Generating Soil Health Solutions
Generating Soil Health Solutions

Program Contact

Dr. LaKisha Odom

Year Awarded  2022

FFAR award amount   $1,250,000 (2017) & $1,550,000 (2022 Renewal)

Total award amount   $2,500,000 (2017) & $3,100,000 (2022 Renewal)

Location   Tempe, AZ

Matching Funders   McDonald’s USA

  • Soil Health

Can Grazing be More Environmentally & Economically Sustainable?

This research is analyzing how Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) grazing increases farm resiliency, contributes to carbon sequestration, improves soil biodiversity and impacts animal wellbeing and productivity. In the first phase of the research, funded in 2017, tested whether AMP grazing or conventional, continuous grazing are better for the land and/or the farmers’ income, Byck and his research team recruited five neighboring ranchers in the Southeastern U.S. to participate in this long-term study where one farmer was practicing AMP grazing and the other used continuous grazing practices. The researchers selected the conventional farms by matching the soil types, slopes and aspects to the sun to the five AMP grazing farms. They then compared results, neighbor to neighbor.

In the second phase of the research, funded in 2022, the research team is expanding the project to the Upper Great Plains, where there is a much shorter growing season and is much drier and cooler than the Southeast. Learning the impacts of AMP grazing in this different region of the U.S. will help further quantify its benefits and aid researchers in determining the scalability of this grazing technique.

What we're calling Adaptive Multi-Paddock grazing has a spectrum, but it's folks who are moving their animals usually once a day or more. They're keeping their animals in one herd for the most part. The size of the herd, the size of their paddocks, the size of their ranch is all up to their own specific needs. It seems to be able to turn around land quickly. Peter Byck
Professor of Practice, Schools of Sustainability and Journalism at Arizona State University

Why This Research is Important

Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) grazing is a livestock management practice that uses lightweight, portable fencing systems to move animals strategically around a large pasture. This method allows for shorter periods of grazing with moderate plant use and provides the land time to recover after grazing. AMP grazing mimics the natural grazing patterns of bison, which are considered by some the best grazing land managers, and is highly adaptive for a variety of livestock.

Unlike conventional grazing practices, in which animals continuously graze in one location, AMP grazing could increase farm resiliency, contribute to carbon sequestration, improve soil biodiversity and impact animal wellbeing and productivity. Smaller studies of AMP grazing confirmed these benefits, though scientists and ranchers needed additional research to prove that AMP grazing can achieve these goals more effectively than continuous grazing practices.

mimic the roaming bison graphic comparing conventional grazing practices with cows in entire field to AMP grazing practices with cows in concentrated area of the field with remaining field at rest
Conventional grazing compared to Amp grazing Image courtesy of Standard Soil.

Details About this Research

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