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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Adaptive Grazing Management Experiment

Lark Bunting

Project Introduction

The overarching goal of this study is to examine how science can be conducted in a real-world manner (i.e., at ranch-level scales with manager involvement) to evaluate the effectiveness of adaptive grazing management for both production and conservation goals.  In particular, we seek to examine how grazing management can be implemented in a manner that responds to current and changing rangeland conditions, incorporates active learning, and makes decisions based on quantitative, repeatable measurements collected at multiple spatial and temporal scales. 

To this end, ARS scientists and university collaborators have developed an adaptive grazing management experiment being implemented at the Central Plains Experimental Range in northeastern Colorado.  A Stakeholder Group of 10 persons was selected to represent ranchers, public land managers, conservation organizations and nongovernmental organizations.  This Stakeholder Group met in September of 2012 and January and September of 2013 to 1) choose and prioritize outcomes desired from this experiment, 2) determine criteria and/or triggers for movement of livestock among pastures in an adaptive manner, and 3) select appropriate monitoring data requirements needed for feedback to determine if management is achieving desired outcomes.

AGM Meetings and Plans

Weekly AGM Updates

CPER AGM Pasture Tour

Forage  Calculator

Pasture Monitoring Protocols

Visual Obstruction methods description, regression for predicting biomass, and proposed VOR triggers for cattle movement to next pasture


Pasture Monitoring Results

 Precipitation and Soil Moisture  2013  2014 2015  2016
 Vegetation Structure (VOR)  2013  2014 2015 2016
 Vegetation Canopy Cover  2013  2014 2015 2016
 Densities of Key Plant Species  2013  2014 2015 2016
 Peak Plant Biomass  2013  2014 2015 2016
 Residual Plant Biomass  2013  2014 2015 2016
 Grassland Birds  2013  2014 2015 2016
 Cattle weight gains ADG    2014 2015 2016
 Fecal Crude Protein    2014 2015 2016
 Fecal Digestible Organic Matter    2014 2015 2016

Last Modified: 4/19/2017
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