Effects of stocking rate on a rough fescue grassland vegetation

Willms, W. D., S. Smoliak, J. F. Dormaar
Publication Year: 
In this study, authors used exclosures to determine the effects of continuous grazing at light, moderate, heavy and severe stocking rates, in Alberta rough fescue grasslands for 32 years. In comparing vegetation data from the first six years to the last six years, grassland deterioration was obvious at greater stocking rates. As stocking rate increased from moderate to severe, rough fescue declined dramatically and was replaced with Parry oat grass and forbs. Range condition increased in the lightly stocked pasture and in exclosures of all pastures. However, the exclosure recovery rate was related to the range condition and rough fescue composition of the area at the time it was protected from grazing. The authors conclude that grazing management should be based on maintaining forage production in these pastures, as opposed to managing for rough fescue, which only allows minimal use and can be a lengthy process.
Montana State University

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