Inclusion Zones – What Are They and Why Should You Care? 

What the heck in an “Inclusion Zone”? Well, it’s a nifty way to increase the amount of litter you trample on the ground with your livestock. You could do this with any livestock, however cattle will be the most effective due to their weight and size.

I first heard about an inclusion zone from Greg Judy and Ian Mitchell-Innes. They are practicing high-density mob grazing. An Inclusion Zone is a small area of pasture where you “park” your livestock for a period of time. During this time they are expected to basically do one thing. Trample and foul the ground. You will be bunching them up relatively tightly, overnight is best, and your goal is to trample as much litter onto the ground as you can. They will also impact the ground severely with their hooves, and add their urine and manure in that area too. This is a good thing to do because:

  • Increase the amount of soil that is covered by litter
  • Increase the kinetic energy due to hoof action
  • Concentrate the urine and manure to a small area
  • Accustom your cattle to being handled regularly with limited spacing
All of these things will increase biological activity in the soil. The kinetic energy due to hoof action will “wake up” or stimulate soil microbes. The litter protecting the soil will keep it shaded, moist and provide a hospitable environment for soil life. The urine and manure will bring moisture and fertility to the soil. Many of the microbes found in cattle manure are identical to those found in the soil. There is a symbiotic relationship between large herbivores and grasslands. 
An example of an inclusion zone might look something like this:

Here are some before and after pictures of an inclusion zone we did at Greg Judy’s farm.


Here is the takeaway:

  • “Park” your livestock inside the inclusion zone for 8-10 hours
  • “Parking” them overnight is best, they don’t need water
  • Allow the inclusion zone adequate time to recover – this is very important, depending on your environment, this could be 90 days or 365 days
  • Take before and after pictures, mark the inclusion zone site, and return when fully recovered and compare this site to surrounding areas

Well, there you have it. This is one of the most effective ways to rehabilitate your land. Incorporating Inclusion Zones into your management toolbox will bring about success and profitability to your triple bottom line. You can also subscribe to Agricultural Insights and get notified of new posts via email by going here.

Chris Stelzer

Chris Stelzer is a published Author, founder of Agricultural Insights and creator of many resources that help family farmers and ranchers grow their businesses. His flagship courses are the Grazing Mastery Program and The Farm Marketing Mastery Program. 

Chris Stelzer

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