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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Prescribed Grazing to Sustain Livestock Production, Soil Quality, and Diversity on California and Wyoming

Location: Rangeland Resources Research

2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Conduct a scientific survey of 500 rangeland grazing managers in each of two states to determine social-cultural-economic-institutional factors driving grazing decisions; to understand how managers receive, assess, and use grazing management information; and to determine their perspectives on managing grazing intensity, grazing season, and rest from grazing for forage production, livestock production, suppression of weeds, and prevention of soil degradation. Conduct ranch-scale assessments of indicators of rangeland health on 25 ranches in each state to determine the grazing-plant-soil-forage relationships. Develop an online prescribed grazing management decision support tool that allows users to: access information about prescribed grazing; explore ranch-scale specific grazing management and effectiveness of monitoring options; and participate in prescribed grazing information exchange.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
We propose to collaborate with the range management communities in Wyoming and California in general and specifically with the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and California Cattlemen’s Association to attain the following: Conduct a scientific survey of 500 rangeland grazing managers in each of two states to determine social-cultural-economic-institutional factors driving grazing decisions; to understand how managers receive, assess, and use grazing management information; and to determine their perspectives on managing grazing intensity, grazing season, and rest from grazing for forage production, livestock production, suppression of weeds, and prevention of soil degradation. Conduct ranch-scale assessments of indicators of rangeland health on 25 ranches in each state to determine the grazing-plant-soil-forage relationships. Develop an online prescribed grazing management decision support tool that allows users to: access information about prescribed grazing; explore ranch-scale specific grazing management and effectiveness of monitoring options; and participate in prescribed grazing information exchange. We proposed to conduct ranch-scale assessments of indicators of rangeland health on 25 ranches in each state. Rangeland health can be defined as “the degree to which the integrity of the soil, vegetation, water, and air, as well as the ecological processes of the rangeland ecosystem are balanced and sustained (USDA Technical Reference 1734-6). These rangeland health assessments are qualitative (non-measurement) procedures to assess the functional status.
1)soil/site stability, defined as the capacity of an area to limit redistribution and loss of soil resources by wind and water,.
2)hydrologic function, defined as the capacity of an area to capture, store, and safely release water from precipitation, and.
3)biotic integrity, defined as the capacity of the biotic community to support ecological processes within the normal range of variability expected for the site. We will focus on the following key primary indicators:.
1)amount of bare ground,.
2)soil macro-aggregate stability using a soil stability kit,.
3)litter and native plant cover, and.
4)weed cover. Bare ground, plant and liver cover can all be acquired through use of the same line-point intercept method, thereby facilitating high returns per time investment in the field for these assessments. These assessments will be made with the individual land managers to facilitate education transfer of this monitoring procedure.


3.Progress Report

Developmental activities for this collaboration have been the focus this year. We are conducting outreach and soliciting stakeholder input on all aspects of the project from the mail social survey, to the on ranch cross-sectional survey, to the outreach products which we plan to generate. We are thus starting to lay the groundwork to make certain that stakeholders have input, and a sense of ownership, in the project outcomes. We have conducted one-on-one interviews with over 20 ranchers to gain insight on their grazing information needs, their thoughts about prescribed grazing for ecosystem service enhancement, how we can meet their information needs in terms of outreach content and means of delivery, and how we can integrate their management knowledge with research information. We are working to form a project advisory group, composed of stakeholders. Information about the project’s goals and scope has been shared widely with stakeholders in CA and WY via Cooperative Extension/ARS/USDA forums and in collaboration with partners such as CA Rangeland Conservation Coalition, CA Cattlemen’s Association, CA/WY Farm Bureau, WY Stockman Grower’s Association, Defenders of Wildlife, and CA Audubon. We have initiated a project website and are getting 5 to 7 enquiries a week about the project. During the coming year we will develop and conduct the mail survey of ranchers in CA and WY, as well as initiate the on ranch prescribed grazing cross-sectional survey in both states. To ensure accountability in the mutual expectations of this collaboration, ADODR met with the lead UC-Davis University collaborator twice in face-to-face meetings, and monthly teleconferences were held. In addition, email contact is quite regular (several per month).


Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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