The University of Arizona

Plant community responses to short duration grazing in tallgrass prairie.

R.L. Gillen, F.T. McCollum, M.E. Hodges, J.E. Brummer, K.W. Tate

Abstract


A key to management of short duration grazing systems is maintaining proper rest periods for individual pastures, but information on the necessary length of rest periods for tallgrass prairie is limited. Research hypotheses for this study were that tallgrass prairie plant communities would respond differently to grazing schedules incorporating rest periods of varying lengths and that this response would be dependent on stocking rate. Treatments consisted of 3 grazing schedules (2, 3, or 4 rotation cycles per 152 day grazing season) and 2 stocking rates (1.6 and 2.2 times the moderate continuous rate). Plant frequency, standing crop, species composition, and forage utilization were sampled from 1985 to 1989. Precipitation was above average in 4 of the 5 study years. Grazing schedule did not affect any vegetation parameter over time. Stocking rate did not affect plant frequency or species composition. Standing crop was reduced and forage utilization increased at the higher stocking rate but these effects were consistent over time. Frequency of western ragweed [Ambrosia psilostachya DC.] and the relative species composition of the forb component increased in all grazed pastures compared to ungrazed pastures. The overall lack of major treatment effects was attributed to favorable precipitation, spring burning, and the initial high-seral successional stage of the experimental pastures.

Keywords


grazing time;controlled grazing;ecological succession;stocking rate;rotational grazing;Oklahoma;natural grasslands;grazing intensity;plant communities;cattle;prairies;botanical composition;grazing

Full Text:

PDF