Siobhan Griffin has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to grazing management techniques and how to build topsoil.

Ms Griffin began her farming career over 25 years ago in New York State.

She first studied at Cornell University where she gained a bachelor's degree focused on animal sciences.

She then worked on conventional dairy farms before starting her own farm of 10 cows in 1989.


Over time, she built up her herd to 100 and in 1997 ran the first organic dairy farm in New York State.

In 2015, she moved to New Zealand and after meeting her fiance Rick Cameron. She has stayed ever since.

Ms Griffin now works on a sheep and beef farm in Milton and has started her own business called Next Level Grazing.

She calls herself a grazing coach and wants to spend the rest of her career helping other farmers.

''Working with nature gets the best results, grow more grass, enhance animal performance and build top soil.''

She said it was not about how many cows there were but how they were managed.

''It's not the cow, it's the how.''

Ms Griffin said farmers had to understand everything they had to work with in order to be successful.

She said managing a farm was not about working in straight lines, rather it was about working in circles as everything affects each other.

Ms Griffin's grazing methods have a significant focus on not overgrazing and growing a variety of tall plants with deeper roots.

She believed that using livestock on the land can actually mitigate carbon getting into the atmosphere.

''With taller planting and using livestock to graze this and trample it back into the soil ... ultimately, this will build up organic matter and mitigate carbon.''

From experience, Ms Griffin believed reducing livestock numbers was not a good environmental solution.

''The vegan movement relies on crops such as soy bean, which have a solar organic matter less than 2% and when they are harvested they expose so much bare land.''

She said those practices were not regenerative and decreased top soil.

''By having livestock graze the land with good management it can actually increase top soil.''

Ms Griffin said New Zealand farmers were very conscious of their grazing systems and in some cases they were ''too good''.

'' The problem could be that farmers in New Zealand are doing 'too' good a job with their pastures, especially dairy farmers''

She said farmers had mastered grazing rye grass and white clover but these species performed best at lower grazing heights.

''I did not realise how much production I was missing out on until I started managing for many different taller species with a higher grazing wedge.

''I still had perennial rye grass and white clover but also had layers of grass and herbs above them harvesting extra solar energy for me.''

Ultimately, grazing the top one third to one-half of a taller grazing wedge was healthier for the stock and the soil, Ms Griffin said.

Southern Rural Life