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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: THE CONSERVATION-PRODUCTION INTERFACE IN NORTHERN MIXED-GRASS RANGELANDS

Location: Rangeland Resources Research

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Evaluate how management practices and disturbance processes interact to influence: A) transitions/thresholds in ecological phases and states, B) plant community heterogeneity, C) mechanisms and risk of weed invasion, and D) temporal dynamics of key ecological indicators of rangeland health.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Complementary studies will address the influence of grazing management strategies on ecosystem services including diverse production and conservation goals including plant diversity, rangeland health, livestock and plant production, weed invasion, carbon sequestration/storage and small mammal populations.


3.Progress Report:

The objective of this cooperative work is to evaluate how management practices and disturbance processes interact to influence.
1)transitions/thresholds in ecological phases and states,.
2)plant community heterogeneity,.
3)mechanisms and risk of weed invasion, and D) temporal dynamics of key ecological indicators of rangeland health in northern mixed-grass prairie. In FY 2013, efforts were completed addressing the data quality and control of a ten-year cow-calf grazing experiment where season-long (June-September) grazing was compared to early season (June-July) and late season (August-September) grazing. Forage production, livestock production and soil carbon and nitrogen are being evaluated. Additionally, we have continued evaluations of numerous ecosystem responses to management practices involving yearling steer grazing (long-term stocking rate study, alteration of existing stocking rates from heavy to light or no grazing, and longer rest periods >1 year). These responses include animal weight gains, plant productivity, plant composition and diversity, and vegetation structure. Work by this project will ultimately result in the development of grazing management strategies that are desirable for enhancing ecosystem services and achieving contemporary conservation objectives while still providing necessary livestock production. In addition, ecological information regarding how this rangeland ecosystem responds to grazing season and stocking rate (including the reduction of stocking rates after a prior history of heavy grazing) will be useful to land managers. To ensure accountability in the mutual expectations of this collaboration, ADODR meets with leadership and members of the 8A Hay and Cattle Company on at least a monthly basis to discuss research findings. In addition, ADODR presents a summary of the research findings to the 8A Hay and Cattle Company at the end of the year.


Last Modified: 8/30/2014
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