One Man’s Journey to Better Forage

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Black cows grazing on hillside at sunset

Since finding his niche in pasture management, Brandon Hall’s pastures, and his neighbors’ pastures, are better for it. 

In Knox County, Illinois, the breeze rustles through healthy grass in Brandon Hall’s pasture. The gentle bellows from his cow-calf herd greet him in the morning, along with the smell of hot coffee and the sight of sunshine glittering off the fencing wire.

About five years ago, though, the breeze would have rustled through thistles, pigweed (spiny amaranth) and other weeds. The cow-calf herd would have been too busy nosing through a tangle of undesirable greenery to find the forage hidden within. The sunshine wouldn’t be able to reach rows of metallic fencing wire.

But since finding his niche in pasture management, Hall’s pastures, and his neighbors’ pastures, are better for it. Hall is a certified crop adviser and location operation manager for West Central FS. He’s active in multiple local clubs and boards with his peers, like Knox County Cattlemen’s Association and Illinois Farm Bureau.

“My mindset is: How do we treat our pastures like we treat our cash crops? Because our pasture is our cash crop. We know how much beef is worth right now. We know how much hay is worth,” Hall says. “How do we continue to maximize the relatively few acres of pastures or few acres of hay we have? That’s where it all comes together.”

When Hall returned to the family farm a few years ago and started running a cow-calf herd with his brother, he says, he spent too much time, shovel in hand, sweating in the summer sun, determined to dig out the toughest weed challenges — literally.

“I spent two summers digging out thistles,” Hall says. “And then I thought, ‘I sell herbicides for a living. What am I doing?’”

And the journey toward better forages — and easier chores — began. Hall contacted his Corteva Agriscience Range & Pasture Specialist. The duo then created a plan that started in Hall’s backyard with PastureGard® HL and GrazonNext® HL herbicides.

“Somebody in my industry and my area just needed to take the initiative to make pasture management a forethought instead of an afterthought. Luckily, I was the person ahead of the curve,” Hall says.

Hall set out to find the proof in the pasture, conducting field trials and trying different products, including DuraCor® herbicide, which quickly earned a place on his farm.

“I do a lot of trials. I like to see it before I sell it,” he explains. “If I see success, then I’ll tell folks about it. I want to shout from the rooftops, ‘Hey! This stuff really works! I’m here to help you!’”

Through his tenure as a Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) in Illinois row-crop country, Hall became familiar with pasture management products; he just didn’t see anyone using them. But when he started talking about the potential return on investment (ROI), his customers — and even competitors’ customers — began calling and placing orders.

“By showing them how much longer they can keep their herd out on pasture and how much that can delay hay-feeding season, it makes the added cost and time easier to digest, because the ROI is there, I’ve seen it myself.”
— Brandon Hall


Hall says he looks forward to learning how drones and other technology can further increase ROI. On a more traditional level, he says, he’ll continue hosting field days with his Corteva Agriscience Range & Pasture Specialist to show producers how pasture management can enhance profit potential.

“Happy cows thrive in West Central Illinois,” Hall chuckles. “Through my career, I’ve met and worked with a lot of good people with the goal to help my customers and their operations.”

Last year, Hall’s peers recognized his good work by nominating him for and, ultimately, selecting him as CCA of the Year. “I believe one reason I was considered for this award was because of my work in range and pasture,” he says. “It’s humbling to work with good people and to produce good results.”

To stay tuned to Hall’s pasture management journey, follow him on X (Twitter): @ILSoilNerd.

Under normal field conditions DuraCor® is non-volatile. DuraCor and GrazonNext® HL have no grazing or haying restrictions for any class of livestock, including lactating dairy cows, horses (including lactating mares) and meat animals prior to slaughter. Label precautions apply to forage treated with DuraCor or GrazonNext HL and to manure and urine from animals that have consumed treated forage. Consult the label for full details. DuraCor and GrazonNext are not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Always read and follow label directions. 

 

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