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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Research Project #430620

Research Project: Selecting and Managing Practices for Agricultural Landscapes

Location: Range Management Research

Project Number: 3050-11210-009-77-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2016
End Date: Jun 30, 2020

Objective:
1) Develop data-driven approaches in the production of ecological site descriptions for agricultural landscapes; 2) Improve technologies for monitoring and assessing agricultural landscapes; 3) Evaluate historic, current, and new restoration practices for public and private agricultural lands, and 4) Evaluate livestock management practices suitable for conserving and restoring rangelands of the southwestern U.S.

Approach:
Obj. 1 is shared by the Natural Resource Conservation Service and involves collection and interpretation of data required to develop ecological site descriptions (ESDs). These ESDs are used to create landscape-scale maps that are then used to plan conservation practice applications and evaluate past conservation practices. Obj. 2 is shared by the Bureau of Land Management. We are identifying indicators of land health suitable for management scale application. These indicators will be incorporated into the BLM Assess, Inventory and Monitoring (AIM) strategy and evaluated for their effectiveness in quantifying current status of western public rangelands in the southwestern U.S. Obj. 3 is shared by several U.S. agencies where we are evaluating large landscape-scale restoration treatments in a quantitative scientific manner. Specifically, we will scientifically evaluate BLM's "Restore NM" program where large tracts of public lands have been treated with herbicides for shrub control. We will provide BLM with a science-based evaluation of these conservation treatments and site-based recommendations for future practices. Obj. 4 is shared with New Mexico State University and involves experimental tests of the characteristics of recently-introduced Raramuri Criollo compared to traditional Angus cattle to model the potential benefits of the Criollo biotype and identify management strategies to improve ranch profitability.