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Adoption of Brush Busters: Results of Texas county extension surveyChanging landowner demographics and the increasing recognition that some quantity of woody plants is valuable for certain rangeland management objectives has led to increasing interest in selective brush management practices. Brush Busters is a collaborative extension/research program developed in response to this growing interest. A survey of Texas County Extension Agents-Agriculture was conducted in 1999 to determine their perceptions about the interest in and adoption of Brush Busters practices. Using 3 threshold photographs, Extension Agents representing almost 50% of the counties in the 9 Extension Districts surveyed estimated that 44, 34, and 49% of the total area of mesquite, juniper and pricklypear, respectively, could be treated using Brush Busters. They also indicated that over 405,000 ha (78% mesquite) were treated with Brush Busters methods between 1995 and 1998, but that this represented less than 7% of the potentially treatable area. In most Extension Districts, more time was spent disseminating information about Brush Busters methods than any other brush management method since 1995. Extension Agents indicated that Brush Busters has become popular because it is perceived to be an inexpensive, convenient, safe, effective and predictable method for controlling brush, and because user-friendly information is widely available. Our findings suggest that increasing the adoption rates of ecologically sound rangeland management technologies requires: (1) greater emphasis on developing and disseminating user-friendly messages to rangeland managers and Extension Agents; and (2) greater emphasis on short-term efficacy rather than the long term advantages of new technologies.
Evaluating changes in ranch management practices through extension educationSince 1988, University of California Cooperative Extension short courses have been offered to 362 California ranchers and interested participants. The purpose was to assist private rangeland owners and managers in planning ranch goals, monitoring ranch operations, and establishing economically feasible and ecologically sustainable grazing management systems. In 1994, an evaluation study of the short courses was conducted to determine if the rancher participants had initiated successful improvements in their ranching and grazing management. A survey questionnaire mailed to all short course participants had a rancher response rate of 49%. Results of the survey indicate that over three-quarters of the ranchers had family operations, most of which were cow-calf operations. Almost 40% of the ranchers earned more than half of their income directly from their ranching operation. As a result of having taken the short courses, ranchers reported that they had improved or protected 14% of the rangeland which they owned or leased. Over half said that they had increased their ranching profits. A majority of respondents had implemented at least one ranching practice presented in the short course. These changes appear to be motivated from ranchers' needs to increase on-ranch profits through enterprise diversification, to cope with regulatory constraints, and to improve land management for future generations on a family ranch.