The University of Arizona

Adaptive Management for Drought on Rangelands

Justin D. Derner, David J. Augustine


• Adaptive management can be used to manage complexity, such as how to match forage production variability across years and within portions of a grazing season with animal demand through management flexibility.
• Adaptive management strategies should incorporate flexibility and feedback mechanisms informed by appropriate seasonal weather variables and monitoring metrics to both increase resiliency of rangeland ecosystems and reduce risk for the ranching enterprise associated with drought.
• For management flexibility, we provide four general strategies that ranchers can use to deal with drought: 1) predict it using weather and climate forecasting tools, 2) track it, 3) employ conservative stocking rates, and 4) utilize inherent spatial variability.
• Adaptive grazing management plans that seek to integrate drought prediction tools, conservative but flexible stocking, and existing and predicted spatial heterogeneity in forage quantity and quality can be incorporated into conservation practices where spatial heterogeneity in forage resources within and among allotments/pastures is often not explicitly monitored or considered when planning livestock movements.

Keywords: enterprise flexibility, grassbanking, herd structure, resiliency, risk management, risk reduction.

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