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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: THE TOXICITY OF PYRROLIZIDINE ALKALOID-CONTAINING PLANTS AND OTHER HEPATOTOXIC AND NEUROTOXIC PLANTS

Location: Poisonous Plant Research

Title: Targeted grazing: Applying the research to the land

Authors
item Frost, Rachel -
item Walker, John -
item Madsen, Craig -
item Holes, Ray -
item Lehfeldt, John -
item Cunningham, Jennifer -
item Voth, Kathy -
item Welling, Bob -
item DAVIS, THOMAS
item Bradford, Dave -
item Malot, Jana -
item Sullivan, John -

Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 3, 2011
Publication Date: February 1, 2012
Repository URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.2111/1551-501X-34.1.2
Citation: Frost, R., Walker, J., Madsen, C., Holes, R., Lehfeldt, J., Cunningham, J., Voth, K., Welling, B., Davis, T.Z., Bradford, D., Malot, J., Sullivan, J. 2012. Targeted grazing: Applying the research to the land. Rangelands. 34(1): 2-10.

Interpretive Summary: The concept that grazing can be used to restore degraded rangelands is relatively new; it requires a paradigm shift for most people from grazing animals reaping the benefits of the land to the land reaping the benefits of the grazing animals. Using livestock to accomplish vegetation management goals is referred to as targeted grazing. Targeted grazing is defined as the application of a particular kind of grazing animal at a specified season, duration, and intensity to accomplish specific vegetation management goals. The focus is on the vegetation and the subsequent outcomes and changes in composition or structure, rather than the performance of the grazing animal. While the scientific basis for targeted grazing provides the foundation for understanding and improving this technology, as with all grazing management it is the daily operations and decisions that determine its success. The diversity of situations to which this tool can be applied necessitates the exchange of real-life experiences to promote learning among practicioners and to inform land managers of the successful programs and potential pitfalls to avoid. For targeted grazing to become a widely used method for vegetation management, there is a real need for more information in the following areas: 1) more economic data on the efficacy of targeted grazing, 2) documented success stories, 3) easy ways to implement contracts and grazing treatments on public lands, 4) better understanding of plant community dynamics in relation to targeted grazing and herbicides or other conventional treatments. True weed management is past the point of simply diminishing the weed in the plant community. Land managers should be focused ont he complete ecological response and function fo the plant community, including native grasses and forbs and the reseeding potential of the treated landscape.

Technical Abstract: The discipline of range science is in part based on the observation that vegetation on rangelands changes in response to livestock grazing. For much of the history of range science, livestock grazing was considered to affect range plants and ecological condition negatively. Thus range plants were classified as increasers, decreasers, or invaders as a function of their response to grazing. The concept that grazing can be used to restore degraded rangelands is relatively new; it requires a paradigm shift for most people from grazing animals reaping the benefits of the land to the land reaping the benefits of the grazing animals. Using livestock to accomplish vegetation management goals is referred to as targeted grazing. Targeted grazing is defined as the application of a particular kind of grazing animal at a specified season, duration, and intensity to accomplish specific vegetation management goals. It is the last half of this definition that differentiates targeted grazing from traditional grazing. The focus is on the vegetation and the subsequent outcomes and changes in composition or structure, rather than the performance of the grazing animal. Where the potential for targeted grazing to create positive change on the landscape has been clearly demonstrated through research and the experiences of practitioners, it still struggles to gain recognition as a viable vegetation management option. While the scientific basis for targeted grazing provides the foundation for understanding and improving this technology, as with all grazing management it is the daily operations and decisions that determine its success. The diversity of situations to which this tool can be applied necessitates the exchange of real-life experiences to promote learning among practitioners and to inform land managers of the successful programs and potential pitfalls to avoid.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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