|Volesky, Jerry - STATE OF NEBRASKA|
|Currie, Pat - RETIRED USDA-ARS|
Submitted to: Western Beef Producer
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Impact of 6 range treatments and weather on late spring standing forage (SF) and steer gains was measured on rangelands near Miles City, Mont. from 1983 to 1990. RT, established in 8 pastures at 2 sites, were: 1) untreated control + season long grazing (SL); 2) soil tillage (ST) + SL; 3) ST + drill seeding legumes (DS) + SL; 4) brush control (BC) + ST + DS + switchback grazing; 5) BC + ST + DS + SL; 6) ST + nitrogen fertilization + SL. Treatments increased SF 268 lb/ac more than controls (496 lb/ac), but did not affect species composition. SF averaged 438 lb/ac more in 1983, 1986, 1987, 1989, and 1990 (816-1,057 lb/ac) than in drier years 1984, 1985, and 1988 (364-573 lb/ac). Peak SF of (1) perennial cool-season grasses occurred in 1986 (581 lb/ac) and (2) annual grass SF (300-452 lb/ac) occurred in 1983, 1984,1989, and 1990. Above average fall and spring precipitation (September and April) resulted in the greatest total SF. Treatments tended to increase steer gains, but gains were affected more by yearly weather patterns than treatments. Late spring and early summer average daily gains were several folds greater than late season gains in all years except in 1988. Diet quality (crude protein) sampled in 1987 and 1988 varied between 1987 (9.0%) and 1988 (5.8%) and between the beginning (9.6%) and end (5.2%) of each trial, but not treatment. The dynamic relationship between environment and vegetation which causes wide variations in forage production continually poses a challenge for those managing native and modified ranges in the Northern Great Plains.