• Protocol for monitoring standing crop in grasslands using visual obstruction

      Benkobi, L.; Uresk, D. W.; Schenbeck, G.; King, R. M. (Society for Range Management, 2000-11-01)
      Assessment of standing crop on grasslands using a visual obstruction technique provides valuable information to help plan livestock grazing management and indicate the status of wildlife habitat. The objectives of this study were to: (1) develop a simple regression model using easily measured visual obstruction to estimate standing crop on sandy lowland range sites in the Nebraska Sandhills, (2) provide sampling and monitoring suggestions in the use of visual obstruction on this grassland type, and (3) compare the visual obstruction technique to the standard clip and weigh procedure. Visual obstruction precisely predicted average standing crop dry weights for the sandy lowland range sites (r2=0.88). A prediction accuracy of ± 295 kg ha-1was found using a test data set. Two sampling options (A and B) were evaluated using a 2-stage sampling protocol. Option A (1 transect/quarter section) provided more precise estimates applicable to extensive grasslands than option B. However, option A was not applicable to a section (259 ha) or a few sections. Option B (3 transects/section) provided estimates applicable to each section and to the entire area, but it required more intensive sampling than option A to attain the same precision. The visual obstruction technique provided more precise estimates of standing crop than the standard clip and weigh technique when clipping and weighing up to 6 plots per transect. When 7 or more clipped and weighed plots per transect were sampled, standing crop estimates were more precise than using visual obstruction readings. However, since 20 visual obstruction readings/transect (25 minutes) can be sampled in about half the time spent clipping and weighing 6 plots/transect (45 minutes), visual obstruction in combination with a previously estimated regression model provides a simple, reliable, and cost effective alternative to the clip and weigh technique. Regression models should be developed for other grassland types following the methodology described in this paper.
    • Stubble height as a tool for management of riparian areas

      Clary, W. P.; Leininger, W. C. (Society for Range Management, 2000-11-01)
      Stubble height, a measure of the herbaceous vegetation remaining after grazing, has been widely used in recent years to gage the impacts of grazing use in riparian areas. Stubble height is a short-term management guide that should only be applied to help attain long-term ecological objectives; it should not be thought of as a long-term management objective. Maintaining a minimum stubble height helps preserve forage plant vigor, retain sufficient forage to reduce cattle browsing of willows (Salix spp.), stabilize sediments, indirectly limit streambank trampling, maintain cattle gains, and provide an easily communicated management criterion. Based on limited specific research of riparian system response and on knowledge of the characteristics of how cattle graze, a 10-cm residual stubble height is recommended by the authors as a starting point for improved riparian grazing management. Monitoring should then be conduted to determine if an adjustment is needed. In some situations, 7 cm or even less stubble height may provide for adequate riparian ecosystem function, particularly when streambanks are dry and stable or possibly at high elevations where vegetation is naturally of low stature. In other situations, 15-20 cm of stubble height may be required to reduce browsing of willows or limit trampling impact to vulnerable streambanks. The recommended criterion would apply to streamside and nearby meadow sites with hydrophilic or potentially hydrophilic vegetation, but not directly to dry meadows or even to all wet meadows. Stubble height may have little application where the streambanks are stabilized by coarse substrates, or the channels are deeply incised. The effects of residual stubble height in riparian functions have received limited direect experimental examination. Consequently, much of the information in this review was derived from studies indirectly related to the questions raised and, to some extent, from observations of experienced professionals. The authors have identified areas of scientific investigation needed to improve our understanding of the effects of stubble height on riparian function and grazing management.
    • Suppression of grasshoppers in the Great Plains through grazing management

      Onsager, J. A. (Society for Range Management, 2000-11-01)
      It was hypothesized that grazing management could mitigate grasshopper outbreaks on native rangeland in the northern Great Plains. Key practices would require deliberate variation in timing and intensity of grazing events, preservation of canopy during critical periods of grasshopper development, and reductions in areas of bare soil. The twice-over rotational grazing system appeared compatible with those requirements. Grasshopper population trends were monitored during 1993–1995 and 1997–1998 on commercial native rangeland under twice-over rotational grazing vs traditional season-long grazing. A ubiquitous pest grasshopper, Melanoplus sanguinipes (Fabricius), occurred at every sample site during each year in numbers sufficient to provide life history parameters for comparison between treatments. Under rotational grazing, the nymphs developed significantly slower and their stage-specific survival rates were significantly lower and less variable. Consequently, significantly fewer adults were produced signifi-cantly later in the season under rotational grazing.Seasonal presence of all grasshopper species combined averaged 3.3X higher under season-long grazing than under rotation-al grazing. Local outbreaks that generated 18 and 27 adult grasshoppers per m2 under season-long grazing in 1997 and 1998, respectively, did not occur under rotational grazing. The outbreaks consumed 91% and 168%, respectively, as much forage as had been allocated for livestock, as opposed to 10% and 23%, respectively, under rotational grazing. Of 9 important grasshopper species, none were significantly more abundant at rotational sites than at season-long sites. Three species that were primary contributors to outbreaks under season-long grazing remained innocuous under rotational grazing. It therefore appears that outbreak suppression through grazing management is feasible in the northern Great Plains.