Location: Rangeland Resources & Systems ResearchTitle: Evaluating an on-ranch rangeland monitoring program in Nebraska
|STEPHENSON, MITCHELL - University Of Nebraska|
|BOLZE, R - Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition|
|SCHILTZ, B - University Of Nebraska|
Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/10/2019
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Rangeland monitoring is an important component of rangeland management. The Nebraska Grazing Land Coalition developed a rangeland monitoring program (RMP) in 2009 to assist livestock producers monitor rangelands on their ranches. Determining rangeland condition and fulfilling a requirement for conservation incentive programs were the most important reasons livestock producers participated in the RMP. Eighty-seven percent of survey participants indicated they had continued monitoring following the RMP and many indicated they had made management changes to their ranches. Monitoring is an important part of the adaptive management feedback loop. The RMP provided a resource for producers to train them in monitoring techniques. More tools to interpret monitoring data and increased follow-up by technicians may help producers better utilize their monitoring data.
Technical Abstract: The Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition (NGLC) Rangeland Monitoring Program (RMP) began in 2009 and has conducted 320 on-ranch rangeland monitoring trainings. The objective of this article was to evaluate the program, better understand livestock producer operations, and determine the overall impact of the RMP for livestock producers in Nebraska. Surveys were sent to 230 past participants of the RMP. Seventy completed surveys (30.4 % response rate) were returned. Participants who returned surveys managed greater than 200,000 acres of rangelands and 20,000 animals (cow/calf and yearlings). Approval ratings for the RMP were favorable. Greater than 71 % of the participants indicated that the RMP gave them a greater understanding of rangelands and gave them more tools to help manage their rangelands and 70 % of participants indicated they were likely or very likely to recommend the RMP to their neighbors. Eighty-six percent of survey participants indicated that they have continued monitoring. Photo Point monitoring was the most preferred monitoring tool. Many (84 %) survey participants indicated the training helped them to better visually analyze their pastures. Those who have not continued monitoring indicated that time constraints were the main reason for discontinuing their monitoring program. The RMP provides a unique learning opportunity for livestock producers by going to the ranch operation for face-to-face visits. This is different from many outreach or extension trainings which are usually conducted in a group setting at an off-ranch location. The large rangeland area managed by past participants, the high number of producers who have continued monitoring, and the favorable reviews reflect the value of this program. Some producer suggestions to help improve the RMP included more online resources, follow-up technical trainings, and more hands-on workshops. New rangeland monitoring learning opportunities for those who have already taken the training may help in providing greater usefulness to the data that they are collecting. Overall, the program has helped improve grazing management on many ranches throughout Nebraska and continued support for the program will increase awareness on the importance of rangeland monitoring and proper rangeland management.