USE OF AN UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLE (UAV) TO EVALUATE GRAZING STRATEGIES IN THE NEBRASKA SANDHILLS

Author: 
Shine Sanford, Amanda E.
Publisher: 
Society for Range Management
Publication Year: 
2018
Description: 
Nutrient inputs are commonly modeled at the pasture level as if cattle dung and urine deposition were spatially uniform.� However, nutrient return by cattle on grazinglands is patchy and is influenced by a variety of factors, including variation across a pasture in vegetation quality and species composition, location of water and mineral sources, shade availability, and pasture topography.� Stocking rate and grazing strategy also affect dung and urine distribution, leading to significant variation both temporally and spatially in nutrient return to rangelands, but these effects are not yet well known or described in the scientific literature.� In order to gain more insight into the spatial dynamics of nutrient return on grazinglands, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a 4-band multispectral sensor was used to monitor the effects of stocking density on the spatial and temporal changes in dung distribution on pastures grazed by yearling cattle on a sub-irrigated meadow located in the Nebraska Sandhills.� Different stocking densities were created by implementing two different grazing strategies in a 60-day grazing season:� a four-pasture grazing rotation with one 15-day occupation per pasture and a 120-pasture mob grazing system with one 0.5-day occupation per pasture.� Stocking densities were 7,000 kg/ha and 225,000 kg/ha, respectively, for the treatments.� Dung was identified through image analysis techniques and then mapped using a geographic information system (GIS).� The resulting distribution maps were analyzed using spatial statistics to identify clustering patterns and then evaluate how patterns differed between strategies, over time within the same groups, and over the course of the grazing season.� Results of this study are being used to develop and inform a nutrient cycling model which accounts for patterns of dung distribution tied to different grazing strategies when estimating the pulses of nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon being returned to the grazed ecosystem.
Conference Name: 
SRM Reno, NV
Conference Date: 
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Resource Type: 
Text
Document Type: 
Conference Proceedings
Society for Range Management

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