Submitted to: Proceedings of the National Conference on Grazing Lands
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/13/2009
Publication Date: 4/1/2010
Citation: Briske, D., Nelson, C.J., Jolley, L., Sanderson, M.A. 2010. Progress and implications from the grazing lands Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) literature syntheses. Proceedings of the National Conference on Grazing Lands. Proceedings of the 4th National Grazing Conference, Society for Range Management. p.516-525. Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.
Technical Abstract: The Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) is a multiagency effort to quantify scientifically the environmental outcomes of conservation practices used by private landowners. Two syntheses of the scientific literature are underway, which will document the environmental outcomes of conservation practices. Conclusions and recommendations for four of the seven conservation practices for the Rangeland CEAP (prescribed grazing, burning, invasive plants/pests, and restoration/planting) are summarized. The pasture and hayland literature synthesis focused on four conservation practices (prescribed grazing, pasture and hayland planting, forage harvest management, and nutrient management). Experimental data document, for both rangeland and pastureland, that stocking rate is the single most important management variable influencing production and sustainability. The presumed benefits of intensive grazing methods likely result from improved decision-making on the part of grazing managers. On rangelands, fire negatively affects some herbaceous species the year of the fire, but within 2-3 years post-fire most species recover suggesting that the use of prescribed burning for short-term control of undesirable plants is both justifiable and sustainable. A major deficiency in fire research and management is failure to consider reoccurring fire as a critical part of long-term ecosystem management. Restoration of rangeland infested with invasive plants is successful about 20% of the time when non-native species are seeded and less when native species are seeded. More effective invasive plant management requires standardizing data collection and risk analysis, development of science-based management strategies, and implementation of education and technology transfer programs. For pasture and hayland, planting methods and inputs depend on seedling characteristics so adaptive management is required. Planting new species into existing stands did not increase forage yield unless it was associated with fertilization and more intensive forage utilization. Nutrient losses from pastures often are lower than from row crops, but with high nutrient inputs, non-uniform distributions and/or overgrazing, nutrient losses can decrease water and air quality. Monitoring must be implemented to more effectively determine the ecological benefits realized from these conservation practices and to provide feedback to optimize practices for greatest efficiency. These findings will be used in NRCS conservation planning standards and related USDA initiatives to improve grazingland management and conservation.