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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

Project Number: 5409-21610-001-05
Project Type: Reimbursable

Start Date: Oct 01, 2010
End Date: Sep 30, 2013

Objective:
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.

Approach:
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.

Last Modified: 4/16/2014
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