What is Litter and Why is it Important? 

What is Litter and Why is it Important? Litter is organic matter, mostly in the form of trampled grass that is physically placed on the ground. We can create litter without the use of livestock, but in this scenario I’ll be discussing litter created by cattle. Litter can be placed on the ground by grazing livestock a high densities. To learn how to create more or less density please see this post. The reasoning for placing litter on the ground is just like mulching your garden. It cuts down on weeds, retains moisture and add fertility to the soil.

Litter is essential if you want to keep your pasture/range healthy! The benefits of placing litter on the ground are:

  • Keeps the soil covered
  • Helps retain moisture in the soil
  • Provides a food source for soil microbes and critters
  • Sequesters Carbon
  • Provides drought resistance
  • Builds organic matter 
  • Water can infiltrate into the soil easier
  • Reduces erosion caused by wind and water
  • Extends growing season in both spring and fall
  • Provides “flood insurance”
  • Increases the amount of livestock you can run, AKA increased stocking rate
  • Enables you to grow more grass in the future
  • Heals the water cycle
  • Heals the mineral cycle
I could go on and on about the benefits of placing more litter on the ground but lets have a look at some examples of what litter looks like. These photos were taken at Greg Judy’s farm in the winter. Notice the green coming up, in February. You should also take note that you can’t see any bare soil.

And another picture after I’ve peeled back some litter.

So there you have it. Keep the soil covered. 

Please remember to go read this post to learn how to get more litter on the ground!  You can subscribe to Agricultural Insights and get notified of new posts via email by going here.

Got Litter?

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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