Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 19, 2004
Publication Date: January 24, 2004
Citation: VERMEIRE, L.T., HEITSCHMIDT, R.K., HAFERKAMP, M.R. NORTHERN PRAIRIE RESPONSE AFTER 6-YEAR EXPOSURE TO SEVEN GRAZING PRACTICES. SOCIETY FOR RANGE MANAGEMENT MEETING ABSTRACTS. No. 373. 2004. Technical Abstract: Seven grazing practices were applied 6 years in eastern Montana to determine effects on plant community composition and standing crop. Grazing treatments were randomly assigned to 14, 6.1-ha pastures. Treatments were moderate stocking of cattle using 3-pasture rotation (3PR), season-long (SL), high-intensity low-frequency (HILF), short-duration (SDG), 3-pasture winter rotation (3PRw) and spring calving (SpC) systems. The final treatment was heavy stocking when forage was available (Heavy). Cactus, forb, grass, shrub and total standing crop were measured one year before treatment (1997) and one year after final treatment (2003). Forb and shrub standing crops were similar between periods, at 83 and 6 kg ha-1, respectively. Cacti increased from 0 to 80 kg ha-1 in 2003. Post-treatment grass and total standing crops were 45 and 39% lower than their pre-treatment measures, respectively. However, these reductions are likely a reflection of extended drought rather than grazing. No grazing treatment differences occurred between periods for cactus, forb, grass, shrub or total standing crop. Within the grass component, western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii P.A. Love), other cool-season perennials, and warm-season perennials were similar among treatments. Annual grass standing crop was greater for 3PRw (316 kg ha-1 ) and SpC (359 kg ha-1 ) than SL, HILF, or Heavy pastures (70 kg ha-1) in 2003. Changes in standing crop over time and lack of change among grazing treatments indicate northern mixed prairie is most responsive to weather and resistant to changes in composition. Grazing practices appear capable of inducing only minor changes on claypan sites during generally dry periods.