details in Agricultural Research.
Lasso Computers to Help With Ranch Plans
By Marcia Wood
April 16, 2001
Dry, rugged ranges of the American
Southwest--when managed skillfully--can support healthy herds of cattle, sheep
and goats. Leathery shrubs and coarse grasses of the region also enable other
animals, like pronghorn antelope, whitetail deer, quail, jackrabbits and small
pigs called javelinas, to thrive.
To help keep the regions grazinglands--and ranchers profits--in
good shape, scientists with the Agricultural
Research Service in Arizona and New Mexico and their colleagues in Mexico
are collaborating in a unique new project. The scientists want to make two
different decision-making aids easy and convenient for ranchers to use when
they sit down at a computer to update and revise their ranch-management plans.
One of the aids is a computerized model called MODSS that ARS hydrologist
Jeffry J. Stone and others in ARS are building. Stone is based at the ARS
Southwest Watershed Research Unit
in Tucson, Ariz.
Pronounced modes and short for "multi-objective decision
support system, MODSS helps ranchers look objectively at options for
solving land-management problems. In turn, specialists at USDAs
Natural Resources Conservation Service
are working to computerize their resource planning model. Called SWAPA+H,
its pronounced swap-uh and stands for "soil, water, air,
plant, and animal resources plus humans."
Ideally, ranchers would use SWAPA+H to learn of practical solutions to any
conservation-related problems on their rangelands, such as erosion or decline
of a plant species thats a favorite with livestock. After that, they
would turn to MODSS to look at and weigh the possible impact of each potential
solution on each of the natural resources covered in the SWAPA+H model.
MODSS is already computerized. Plans call for computerizing SWAPA+H, too, so
that it could be downloaded from the Internet. The current issue of the ARS
monthly journal, Agricultural
Research, tells more.
ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Scientific contact: Jeffry J. Stone, ARS Southwest Watershed
Research Unit, Tucson, Ariz.; phone (520) 670-6380, ext. 146, fax (520)