Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2006
Publication Date: 12/20/2006
Citation: Hendrickson, J.R., Olson, B. 2006. Understanding Plant Response to Grazing. IN: K. Launchbaugh and J.W. Walker (eds.). Targeted Grazing: A natural approach to vegetation management and landscape enhancement. pp. 32-39. ASI. Centennial, CO. 2006 Interpretive Summary: Prescription grazing can be a valuable tool for controlling undesirable species; however, for it to be used successfully, an understanding of plant response to grazing is needed. This chapter reviewed current knowledge regarding plant response to grazing and focused on topics such as plant tolerance and susceptibility, selecting the right season and the effects of repeated grazing and grazing on seed production. Some general principles were identified to help grazing managers reduce undesirable vegetation and promote the growth of desirable plants. The key to successful prescription grazing is for managers to understand plant responses to grazing and then to manipulate these responses to accomplish long-term vegetation management and landscape goals.
Technical Abstract: Rangelands are dynamic ecosystems containing a wide diversity of plants. The effects of prescribed grazing on individual plants can be difficult to predict because they occur in complex ecosystems that are subject to seasonal and yearly fluctuations in weather and natural disturbances. This chapter reviews plant responses to grazing, including grazing resistance mechanisms, selecting the right grazing season for maximum effect and the effects of repeated grazing on targeted plants. Prescription grazing managers must consider how the forage needs of their livestock can provide vegetation management solutions. Vegetation can often be effectively managed by simply grazing the right species at the right time and intensity. The key is knowing the right species, time, and amount of grazing for each vegetation situation.