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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

2012 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:

Activities in FY2012 have focused on collaborations with UC-Davis, University of Wyoming and the Wyoming Stock Growers Association regarding data entry and quality assurance of data from surveys of Wyoming Stock Grower members. Additionally, collaborative efforts are addressing influences of prescribed grazing practices by ranchers through a cross-sectional sampling of information provided by individual ranchers on their prior management practices and vegetation/soil sampling in areas on the ranch where they think their management has resulted in “best” conditions and “where the most improvement needs to be made”. Parallel efforts are ongoing in California as well with surveys there conducted by the California Cattlemen’s Association. Project advisory groups, composed of stakeholders (private ranchers, non-governmental entities, public land managers, conservation organizations), are being formed for both the California and Colorado adaptive grazing management experiments. Information about the project’s goals and scope were shared at the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition meeting in January 2012, and at the winter (December 2011) and summer (May 2012) meetings of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. 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) and post-docs on the project have spent at least a week in each location to exchange information and develop consistent methodology across the study sites.


Last Modified: 10/25/2014
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