• Perceptions vs. recommendations: A rangeland decision-making dilemma

      Rowan, R. C.; Ladewig, H. W.; White, L. D. (Society for Range Management, 1994-09-01)
      This paper analyzes subjective perceptions of Texas ranchers concerning management decision-making to obtain insight for improving technology transfer. Correlations among variables from a 1990 mail questionnaire were transformed by principal component analysis into a small number of "new" variables representing unobservable patterns of behavioral similarities. Two principal components explained variability in rancher's perceptions for each of the areas of interest: stocking rate factors, grazing program benefits, and weed/brush treatment techniques. Stocking rate and grazing program components were each characterized by traditional and nontraditional factors. Ranchers perceived the primary benefit from instituting a grazing program to be improved livestock performance (traditional grazing component 1). Some modification of ranchers' perceptions about the primary benefits of grazing programs is indicated. Weed/brush decision-making was characterized by information-source and economic factors. The information-source component was defined by the importance of advice from neighbors and fear of treatment methods. Because these tend to be negative perceptions, both of these variables have the potential for restricting adoption of weed/brush technology.
    • Regional differences among Texas rangeland operators

      Rowan, R. C.; White, L. D. (Society for Range Management, 1994-09-01)
      Based on a 1990 mail survey of Texas beef cattle producers owning and/or operating rangeland, 54% are older than 56 years, but nearly 95% had completed a high school education. Seventy-five percent of total family income came from livestock production, off-ranch employment, and off-ranch investments. Percent of total income from off-ranch investments, off-ranch employment, livestock production, and wildlife production varied with location (vegetation/resource management region). As ranch location progressed from east (humid) to west (arid) ranches became larger, the proportion of livestock income increased, and rancher's reliance on off-ranch employment decreased. Leasing additional rangeland increased the percentage of livestock income and probably increased labor responsibilities which precluded the opportunity (or need) to work off of the ranch. Number of years of ranching experience, rancher age, and the type of animal enterprises also influenced percentages of family income from various sources. More brush control using mechanical, herbicide, and fire techniques was planned when ranchers perceived that more than 49% of their rangeland needed treatment. Less mechanical control and more herbicide use was planned for weed control when ranchers perceived that more than 50% of the area needed treatment.
    • Understanding cause/effect relationships in stocking rate change over time

      Rowan, R. C.; White, L. D.; Conner, J. R. (Society for Range Management, 1994-09-01)
      Decisions made by Texas ranchers over a 10 year period (1980-1990) concerning stocking rate levels were dominated by perceptions about weather. A regression model explained 64% of the variability in stocking rate change over time, with the rainfall/drought variable explaining the majority of variability. As ranchers' perception of a positive rainfall effect increased, so did stocking rates, and vice versa. Although the presence or absence of rainfall cannot be managed per se, proactive stocking decisions should include a strategy for adjusting stocking levels in response to changing environmental conditions. Other factors with significant (alpha = 0.05), albeit trivial, path coefficients on stocking rate change were age, grazing rights (owned vs. leased), traditional stocking rate factors, traditional grazing program factors, and weed/brush information factors. Older ranchers (> 65 years) and ranchers who leased all of their rangeland tended to decrease stocking rates over time. Rangeland operators indicated they considered "improved livestock performance" as the most important benefit from initiating a grazing program. Evidence also suggested that ranchers who rely on their neighbors for advice about weed/brush decisions are not benefitting from the latest technology information. Adoption of economic factors (cost/benefits) for selection of weed/brush technology did not have a significant impact on stocking rates over the 10 year period.