“You look at soil health… the tenets don’t change, right, the tenets of those five things, will remain truthful, now, [and] in 10 years from now, I would hope, right? And that’s kind of how I try to approach my outreach.”
We were delighted to get together with Pete Bauman who is a Natural Resources and Wildlife Field Specialist for SDSU Extension. Pete specializes in range, pasture, and grassland management with an emphasis on educating producers about how profitability and ecological balance are complimentary.
Pete’s focus areas include alternative grassland management tools such as fire, biological control, controlled grazing, and reduction of inputs for systems health.
Pete grew up on a dairy farm in Minnesota and, as a young man, fell in love with cattle, with wildlife and the land in general. As a young man, Pete noticed some of the unintended consequences of conventional farming; the nearby marsh he played in filled up while the creek he fished from became a mud bottom, gone were some of the animals like perch, rock bass, and the frogs, toads and snakes that kids love to collect. There observations influenced young Pete’s story and led Pete to start his
undergraduate studies at SDSU in natural resource and park management; he then gravitated toward wildlife and fisheries. That’s where Pete finds his calling today.
After completing his bachelors and masters at SDSU, Pete started out as a Land Manager at the Nature Conservancy; as a young professional, he managed several of public lands in both Minnesota and South Dakota “I was the Nature Conservancy hippie on the South Dakota side [where public lands were overutilized by grazing], whereas I go in and defend grazing in Minnesota [where public lands were underutilized by grazing], saying we needed more and all of a sudden now it’s the cowboy that all I wanted to do was play with cows.” This experience, while not always easy, informed Pete’s current philosophy about land management, using grazing animals, fire and other management; some disturbance is necessary, but it needs to be managed properly and is always site-specific.
When SDSU came a-calling and asked him to apply for an extension position, Pete first said no, but was finally convinced to join SDSU because he was given an opportunity to reshape what it meant to work in extension. The result is that Pete focuses all his energies on the remaining of South Dakota’s native grasslands, working with private producers on the prairie ecosystems.
What follows in this podcast is a wide-ranging discussion where Pete talks with Buz and Joe about different ways to work with producers, about approaching each case with humility and about listening first to each producer. It is from these angles that the tools of grazing and fire can be intelligently applied by the producer. We touch on many subjects including the notion of context as the 6th principle of soil health; restoring native grass habitat; his role in the South Dakota Grasslands Coalition; prescribed burn; his role as an extension agent in the age of Google; grass-fed beef and contract grazing.
Pete is a busy guy and some of his 2022 activities included the following:
2022 – Wildlife Professional of the Year
Teacher at Eastern Grazing School – July 26-28, 2022
Prescribed fire workshops Coordinator and Instructor – June 2 and 3, 2022
Apart from being in the field, Pete is a prolific author and we have attached some of the links to Pete’s written work below: (see the whole list at https://muckrack.com/pete-bauman/articles )
Grass-Fed Beef: Market Share of Grass-Fed Beef
Grass-Fed Beef: Understanding Terminology in Conventionally Raised Beef and Grass-Fed Beef
Grassland Management Do’s and Don’ts
Managing and Protecting Grasslands for the Future
Plan Now to Control Weeds With Grazing Next Season
5 top tips to help successfully move back calving dates
Manage livestock for beneficial species
Managing Livestock for Dung Beetles and Other Beneficial Species
Structuring Grazing Leases