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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SEMIARID RANGELAND ECOSYSTEMS: THE CONSERVATION-PRODUCTION INTERFACE

Location: Rangeland Resources Research

Title: An evidence-based assessment of prescribed grazing practices

Authors
item Briske, David -
item Derner, Justin
item Milchunas, Daniel -
item Tate, Kenneth -

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: June 25, 2011
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
Citation: Briske, D.D., Derner, J.D., Milchunas, D.G., Tate, K. 2011. An evidence-based assessment of prescribed grazing practices. Book Chapter. In: D.D. Briske (ed.). Conservation benefits of rangeland practices: Assessment, recommendations, and Knowledge Gaps. United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Research Service. pp. 21-74.

Interpretive Summary: Synthesis findings regarding the evidence-based assessment of prescribed grazing practices include: 1) stocking rate, in conjunction with appropriate temporal and spatial animal distribution, is a key management variable that influences numerous conservation outcomes, 2) assumptions regarding livestock distribution and preferences for specific sites and conditions are valid, especially with respect to water distribution, steep topography, and high-elevation sites, 3) wildlife species exhibit varied responses to grazing systems, but the majority of investigations indicate neutral or positive wildlife responses with continuous compared to rotational grazing, 4) the preponderance of experimental evidence indicates that all systems of grazing are similarly constrained by stocking rate and weather; thus, effective management is more important than the specific system of grazing, 5) hydrological responses of soils to grazing largely parallel those of other ecological variables in that stocking rate is the most important management variable, and 6) grazing management recommendations should not be developed exclusively from individual plant responses without partial verification in communities or ecosystems. Implications of these findings are: 1) conservation programs that promote adaptive management may more effectively balance variable forage production with livestock demand in addition to investment in infrastructure, 2) effective management will enhance both production of agricultural goods and provisioning of ecosystem services, and 3) greater development and delivery of management tools and guidelines to support adaptive grazing management will likely optimize multiple goods and services provided to society and conservation investment in grazed ecosystems.

Technical Abstract: Synthesis findings regarding the evidence-based assessment of prescribed grazing practices include: 1) stocking rate, in conjunction with appropriate temporal and spatial animal distribution, is a key management variable that influences numerous conservation outcomes, 2) assumptions regarding livestock distribution and preferences for specific sites and conditions are valid, especially with respect to water distribution, steep topography, and high-elevation sites, 3) wildlife species exhibit varied responses to grazing systems, but the majority of investigations indicate neutral or positive wildlife responses with continuous compared to rotational grazing, 4) the preponderance of experimental evidence indicates that all systems of grazing are similarly constrained by stocking rate and weather; thus, effective management is more important than the specific system of grazing, 5) hydrological responses of soils to grazing largely parallel those of other ecological variables in that stocking rate is the most important management variable, and 6) grazing management recommendations should not be developed exclusively from individual plant responses without partial verification in communities or ecosystems. Implications of these findings are: 1) conservation programs that promote adaptive management may more effectively balance variable forage production with livestock demand in addition to investment in infrastructure, 2) effective management will enhance both production of agricultural goods and provisioning of ecosystem services, and 3) greater development and delivery of management tools and guidelines to support adaptive grazing management will likely optimize multiple goods and services provided to society and conservation investment in grazed ecosystems.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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