Sunday, November 26, 2006

Land EKG Story from Bozeman

"Land doctor - Bozeman business helping ranchers monitor, improve their land. By Michele Corriel

Tim Canterbury has tripled his cowherd in three years and he's hoping to keep up the good work. His secret is really no secret at all. The idea is simple and the work is practical. By using a method to diagnose what is wrong with his pastureland, he can use his common sense to fix it and raise more cattle on the same amount of land....
They've only done about 500 acres so far, but Canterbury will continue using the knowledge he's gained from Land EKG to make improvements on his land.

Land EKG is a Bozeman-based consulting business owned by fourth-generation rancher Charley Orchard. The idea behind Land EKG is to give the farmer or rancher a picture that shows the health of their land. Like a heart EKG, it shows the peaks and valleys, and like a graph, it depicts different areas of concern.

"I had this notion to show the process of the land and all its cycles in a graphic form, a picture or a signature of what's happening out there," Orchard said.

"Once we've gone out there and picked out the number of monitoring locations, then we begin to see what's going on. I teach the ranchers to monitor their own land, gather their own information, instead of relying on outside agencies, who usually just hand out a bunch of data. What's so interesting is that these people know the land so much better than the PhD people who come in with all their numbers."

...According to Miller, the common-sense approach and the simplicity of the work are a winning combination.

"I think his methodology is fantastic," Miller said. "It as simple as possible, so anybody can do it. And he helps them understand why it's important to keep a good eye on the land. There are a lot of monitoring systems around, but they're either very complicated or so academic they don't make sense, or it's done by other agencies. This system puts the tools into the hands of the landowners."

Even though many ranch managers look at the land every day, sometimes they don't see the big picture.

"Land EKG helped to put into context what we saw when we looked at the land," Kossler said. "It's tough to do, without a framework. What's good, what's not so good, what could be better -- and that's the important part of the system. It teaches the concept of what a healthy range ecosystem looks like."

The Land EKG website is at:

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