Submitted to: American Society of Agronomy Branch Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: October 20, 2003
Publication Date: November 10, 2003
Citation: Sanderson, M.A. 2003. Assessment and monitoring of northeastern grazing lands [abstract]. American Society of Agronomy Branch Meeting. p. 50. Technical Abstract: Recent developments in grassland-based livestock production systems have created a need for new information on the ecology and management of pasture and forage lands. Assessment and monitoring tools are needed to document, track, forecast, and convey the condition of grazing lands in the northeast. Methods are also needed to integrate information from a local to regional or national scale. The Pasture Condition Score System has been developed by the NRCS for use as a monitoring and management tool on grazing lands. We used the tool as part of a long-term survey of plant species diversity and soils on grazing lands in the Northeast. Thirty farms were surveyed across the northeast during three years. On each farm, two to five pastures in different landscape positions were selected for survey. Each pasture was rated according to the Pasture Condition Score System. Pasture condition score ranged from 22 to 46 with an average of 33. The relatively low rating for legume content across all pastures suggests that producers should focus management on establishing and maintaining legumes. Pasture condition score was negatively related to plant species richness. Although variable, the relationship indicates that focusing strictly on increasing the number of species in a pasture without regard to the species composition may not be wise. In this survey, pastures with the highest species richness generally had a large number of weed species that were indicative of lax management. The Pasture Condition Score system may be useful for objectively estimating the relative management status of pastures. Other tools for evaluating grazing lands will also be discussed.