The University of Arizona

Effects of mechanical treatments and climatic factors on the productivity of Northern Great Plains rangelands.

M.R. Haferkamp, J.D. Volesky, M.M. Borman, R.K. Heitschmidt, P.O. Currie


Impacts of 7 range treatments and climate on late spring herbage standing crops (SC) were measured in rangelands near Miles City, Mont., from 1983 to 1990. Treatments, established in 8 pastures at 2 sites, were: (1) untreated control + season long grazing (SL); (2) soil tillage (ST) + SL; (3) ST + drill seeding legumes (DS) + SL; (4) brush control (BC) + ST + DS + switchback grazing (utilizing 2 pastures); (5) BC + ST + DS + SL; (6) ST + nitrogen fertilization + SL; and (7) contour furrowing (CF) + aerial seeding legumes + SL. Data were analyzed using years as a repeated measure. Treatments increased (p less than or equal to 0.05) total SC 320 kg/ha over controls, but did not affect species/species group composition. Treated pastures produced similar (p greater than or equal to 0.10) SC of 881 kg/ha. Total SC averaged 490 kg/ha more (p less than or equal to 0.05) in 1983, 1986, 1987, 1989, and 1990 than in 1984, 1985, and 1988. Perennial cool-season grass SC was greatest in 1986 (651 kg/ha). Peak annual grass SC (337-506 kg/ha) occurred in 1983 and 1984, the 2 years following ST or CF, and 1989 and 1990, the 2 years following severe drought. Although regression analyses showed fall, winter, and spring precipitation and temperature were closely related to spring SC, less than 50% of the variation in SC was accounted for when precipitation and temperature were summed on a 1-month, 2-month, or 3-month basis. Above-average fall and spring precipitation (September and April) resulted in the greatest total SC. Species composition varied temporally with changing weather conditions and management strategies.


ambient temperature;rain;pastures;biomass production;range management;Montana

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