RANCH-SCALE EVALUATION OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SOIL HEALTH, FORAGE QUALITY/QUANTITY, AND MULTI-DECADAL GRAZING CAPACITY IN A HIGH-ELEVATION RANGELAND

Author: 
Gergeni, Timm M.
Publisher: 
Society for Range Management
Publication Year: 
2018
Description: 
Soil health has been an evolving concept in agriculture yet practical and applied information for rangelands are lacking.� Moreover, how soil health indicators relate to forage and grazing capacity in harsh and environmentally restricted rangelands of the western US has constrained the use of soil health measurements for management decisions.� Also limiting application of soil health information on rangelands is the notion that small-plot studies are not representative of grazing management implemented by producers and the results may not be as transferrable to ranchers, or as readily accepted by ranchers. We use producer compiled data quantifying realized grazing days for 140 pastures (ranging in size from ~6 acres to >1200 acres) since 1989 from a private ranch in southwestern Wyoming.� At this pasture scale, data includes: size (in acres), animal days per acre by year, and days in and out of pasture.� Pasture-scale grazing data was then coupled with soil and forage sampling in the early-summer of 2017.� Soil samples from the top 10 cm included: plant available nutrients, pH, EC, organic matter and biological parameters. Forage biomass was measured and forage quality samples were taken from the main forage species western wheatgrass (Papscopyrum smithii) and analyzed for a range of quality parameters including protein, digestibility, and nutrient content. Sampling was restricted to upland, non-irrigated native pastures with a range of animal days per acre from 4.0 to 5.4. �We use univariate and multivariate statistics to compare soil, forage, and grazing variables in a bottom-up approach to suggest that if soil health metrics can be improved, what then will be the production-centric outcomes.� Our results suggest that ranchers desire to have soil health information that is relevant at the pasture scale and informative for grazing management.
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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