Richard Watson - American Farmland Trust

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Richard Watson

Senior Regional Soil Health Grazing Specialist

Richard joined AFT in March of 2024, bringing his experience in sheep, cattle, and dairy production, and grazing related research and extension across multiple soils and climates. In his role as Senior Regional Soil Health Grazing Specialist, Richard serves as a primary technical lead on our Climate Smart Beef project, leading the implementation of the Grazing Mentors Network, as well as collaborating on other grazing and soil health efforts. He will be involved in developing these farmer to farmer networks with an emphasis on reaching underserved producers, forging impactful partnerships, documenting outcomes, leading outreach efforts, providing advanced training and technical assistance, developing technical resources for our multiplier networks, engaging with scientists, and developing innovative soil health practices.

Prior to joining AFT, Richard was born and raised in New Zealand. After obtaining his PhD there, Richard was employed as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Georgia conducting on-farm beef cattle research that tested new forage technologies, including the introduction of “non-toxic” endophyte tall fescue into the USA market. Since that time, Richard has held roles as the Statewide Forage Extension Specialist at Mississippi State University, and as a Senior Scientist in the Forage Improvement Group at AgResearch, New Zealand’s equivalent of the USDA-ARS. In 2007, Richard left academia to develop one of the largest pasture-based dairy farming operations in the USA with three large grazing dairies located in Southeast Georgia, capable of milking a combined 2500 cows. He holds Bachelors and Master’s Degrees in Agricultural Science, and a PhD in Animal Science with an emphasis on forage technologies and grazing systems management at New Zealand’s Massey University.

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