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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Short-Term Effects of Summer Fire and Post-Fire Grazing in the Northern Great Plains

Authors
item Crowder, Jessica
item Vermeire, Lance
item Wester, D - TEXAS TECH

Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: October 1, 2005
Publication Date: February 1, 2006
Citation: Rose, J.L., Vermeire, L.T., Wester, D.B. 2006. Short-term effects of summer fire and post-fire grazing in the northern great plains. Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts #314.

Interpretive Summary: Summer wildfire is common in the northern Great Plains. However, little research has been conducted to evaluate summer fire and post-fire grazing effects on plant communities. The objective of this study was to determine short-term effects of summer fire and post-fire grazing on standing crop, current-year biomass, and species composition. Two adjacent sites near Miles City, MT were each divided into 20, 0.75-ha plots with five treatments and four replications. Treatments were no burn + no graze; burn + no graze; burn + 17% utilization; burn + 34% utilization; and burn + 50% utilization. Fire was applied to individual plots August 2003 on one site and August 2004 on the second site. Grazing treatments were applied using ewes (50-57 kg) during June and July of 2004 and 2005 to achieve 0, 17, 34, or 50% utilization. Unburned plots had greater grass standing crop than burned sites (728 vs 282 kg•ha-1), but current-year biomass was similar between fire treatments (270 kg•ha-1) in 2004. Standing crop in 2004 burn plots was increased across ungrazed treatments compared to 2003 plots. Total standing crop and current-year biomass were each similar among utilization levels during the drought year of 2004, but decreased with increasing utilization under productive conditions in 2005. Warm-season grasses, primarily Bouteloua gracilis, decreased with increasing utilization. Other components were generally similar across treatments.

Technical Abstract: Summer wildfire is common in the northern Great Plains. However, little research has been conducted to evaluate summer fire and post-fire grazing effects on plant communities. The objective of this study was to determine short-term effects of summer fire and post-fire grazing on standing crop, current-year biomass, and species composition. Two adjacent sites near Miles City, MT were each divided into 20, 0.75-ha plots with five treatments and four replications. Treatments were no burn + no graze; burn + no graze; burn + 17% utilization; burn + 34% utilization; and burn + 50% utilization. Fire was applied to individual plots August 2003 on one site and August 2004 on the second site. Grazing treatments were applied using ewes (50-57 kg) during June and July of 2004 and 2005 to achieve 0, 17, 34, or 50% utilization. Unburned plots had greater grass standing crop than burned sites (728 vs 282 kg•ha-1), but current-year biomass was similar between fire treatments (270 kg•ha-1) in 2004. Standing crop in 2004 burn plots was increased across ungrazed treatments compared to 2003 plots. Total standing crop and current-year biomass were each similar among utilization levels during the drought year of 2004, but decreased with increasing utilization under productive conditions in 2005. Warm-season grasses, primarily Bouteloua gracilis, decreased with increasing utilization. Other components were generally similar across treatments.

Last Modified: 4/16/2014
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