In Estonia often land that is used in agriculture is not usually owned by farmers. Often landowners, who actually live or have a summerhouse in the countryside, do not want intensive agriculture next to their backyard. They are willing to get lower rents for land, but would like to see animals near their living site. Contemporarily beef cattle farmers, who have a lack of grazing areas, would like to have herds where there is a daily "neighborhood watch". This platform is a social experiment to bring citizens and beef cattle farmers together. Citizens get emotional welfare to watch the daily behaviour of animals and farmers get land at a lower or even free rent or by means other agreements concerning the costs of making new fencing and bringing animals to pasture for the grazing season. The platform uses a calculator tool for the land owner how much land is needed to provide grass for the grazing animals. Also a minimum number of animals to provide stressfree behavior of livestock is recommended.  A rotational grazing system is recommended to get better results in small areas and less movement of machinery.

The idea is very simple. The landowner provides the beef cattle farmer with information about the number of hectars she or he has, that is available for grazing. Then a calculation tool shows how many animals (cows with calves or yearlings) is possible to graze during the Estonian grazing period. 

For example, a landowner has  8 ha land. For a land of good quality there is place for 12 suckler cows with her calves, but if it is semi-natural land 6 suckler cows with calves are possible for grazing. It gives a landowner an idea how the grazing of their property will be. If there are costs to be faced, these are charged to the beef cattle farmer. Examples of these costs may be fences, power generators, transport costs (per km), water availability etc

The lessons that we have learned until now is, that it is a good practice which favours clear relationships between landowners and beef cattle owners,if all the activities and costs are taken into account. There is as well a good impact for the land. Important is that both sides understand the responsibility once the agreement has been signed.  

Author: Airi Kulvet - Liivimaa - Estonia