article on this research in Agricultural Research.
Research Aims To Help Ranchers
By Kathryn Barry
November 6, 2000
The annual weed called Japanese
brome can make up 40 percent of the spring forage available for livestock in
the Northern Great Plains. But studies show it can provide adequate nutrition
for only a short window.
Agricultural Research Service
scientists in Miles City, Mont., have found that if ranchers graze animals on
brome-infested pastures too early and stay too long, they can hinder
development of perennial grasses. These grasses form the mainstay of livestock
nutrition for the rest of the spring and summer. The scientists are helping
ranchers use the weed without depleting native grasses.
The tricky part is predicting the amount of forage likely to be produced
during any year. Sometimes, annual brome grasses produce 600 pounds of forage
per acre, while in other years, they provide only 20 pounds.
The scientists are measuring soil water, nitrogen and precipitation to
determine what factors drive brome productivity. Eventually, they'll produce a
decision-support tool to help ranchers better plan their annual grazing
An article on this research appears in the November issue of Agricultural Research, the
agency's monthly magazine.
ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Scientific contact: Marshall R. Haferkamp, ARS
Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research
Laboratory, Miles City, Mont., phone (406) 432-8211, fax (406) 432-8209,