Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: A Case Study in Managing Tallgrass Prairie: Grazing and Climate Effects on Plant Communities

Authors
item Northup, Brian
item Phillips, William
item Daniel, John
item Mayeux Jr, Herman

Submitted to: Proceedings of the National Conference on Grazing Lands
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: November 3, 2003
Publication Date: May 28, 2004
Citation: Northup, B.K., Phillips, W.A., Daniel, J.A., Mayeux, H.S. 2003. A case study in managing tallgrass prairie: Grazing and climate effects on plant communities [abstract]. Proceedings of the National Conference on Grazing Lands. p. 834.

Technical Abstract: Plant community responses to factors like management and growing conditions are important to the productivity of tallgrass pastures. Two studies were conducted to show how precipitation and management affected plant communities on 1.6 ha pastures in a southern tallgrass prairie in Oklahoma. In a 10-year study (1984-1995), species composition of forage in pastures under intensive (heavy grazing pressures) and extensive (lighter grazing pressures) management was measured and correlated with quarterly precipitation. In a four-year study (1999-2002), standing crop and its composition were measured in paddocks under season-long (June-September) grazing and intensive early stocking (IES) during the first half of the grazing season, to describe plant responses to precipitation and management. In the 10-year study, forage composition varied in all pastures, and species responses were weakly correlated to precipitation recorded during specific quarters of the year. In the second study, more standing crop was produced in 1999 and 2000 (good precipitation years) than during 2001 and 2002 (poor precipitation years), and composition of forage produced on all pastures changed. Low precipitation levels were noted during all quarters of the poor years. In both studies, forage produced by the dominant tallgrasses declined during the dry years under all forms of pasture management and were replaced by less-palatable forages. These responses highlight the over-riding effects of amount and timing of precipitation on pasture productivity, regardless of form of management. Results indicate the need for accurate precipitation forecasts as a tactical tool in applying management to tallgrass pastures.

Last Modified: 11/28/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page