Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2004
Publication Date: 1/31/2005
Citation: Vermeire, L.T., Mitchell, R., Fuhlendorf, S.D., Wester, D.B. 2005. Patch burning and grazing effects on southern mixed prairie plant communities. Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts #357 on CD.
Technical Abstract: Patch burning is being considered an animal distribution tool to increase heterogeneity on rangeland landscapes. Our objectives were to determine the short-term effects of patch fire and grazing on standing crop and the species composition of sand sagebrush-mixed prairie. Twenty-four 4-ha plots were burned in mid-November, burned in mid-April, or left unburned. Within these plots, 5- x 10-m subplots were fenced to exclude cattle or left exposed to cattle grazing for the duration of the growing season. Burn treatments were blocked within pastures to allow individual cattle herds access to fall-burned, spring-burned, and non-burned sites. End-of-season standing crop was clipped from 0.1 m2 quadrats in September to estimate tallgrass, midgrass, shortgrass, cool-season grass, legume, other forbs and total herbage. Tallgrass standing crop did not differ among non-grazed burn treatments either year, but was greater on non-burned grazed plots than fall- or spring-burned plots that were grazed. Forb standing crop on fall-burned plots was nearly double that on spring- and non-burned sites across grazing treatments. Cool-season grasses, predominantly Texas bluegrass, were unaffected by fire, but reduced by grazing. Total herbage was similar across non-grazed burn treatments, but 50% lower on grazed sites burned in spring or fall than non-burned sites exposed to grazing. Results indicate patch burning and grazing can alter standing crop and plant community composition of sand sagebrush-mixed prairie.