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San Luis, CO, United States

Teague R.,Texas A&M University | Teague R.,Texas AgriLife Research Center | Provenza F.,Utah State University | Kreuter U.,Texas A&M University | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Environmental Management | Year: 2013

Maintaining or enhancing the productive capacity and resilience of rangeland ecosystems is critical for the continued support of people who depend on them for their livelihoods, especially in the face of climatic change. This is also necessary for the continued delivery of ecosystem services derived from rangelands for the broader benefit of societies around the world. Multi-paddock grazing management has been recommended since the mid-20th century as an important tool to adaptively manage rangelands ecosystems to sustain productivity and improve animal management. Moreover, there is much anecdotal evidence from producers that, if applied appropriately, multi-paddock grazing can improve forage and livestock production. By contrast, recent reviews of published rangeland-based grazing systems studies have concluded that, in general, field trials show no superiority of vegetation or animal production in multi-paddock grazing relative to continuous yearlong stocking of single-paddock livestock production systems. Our goal is to provide a framework for rangeland management decisions that support the productivity and resiliency of rangelands and then to identify why different perceptions exist among rangeland managers who have effectively used multi-paddock grazing systems and research scientists who have studied them. First, we discuss the ecology of grazed ecosystems under free-ranging herbivores and under single-paddock fenced conditions. Second, we identify five principles underpinning the adaptive management actions used by successful grazing managers and the ecological, physiological, and behavioral framework they use to achieve desired conservation, production, and financial goals. Third, we examine adaptive management principles needed to successfully manage rangelands subjected to varying environmental conditions. Fourth, we describe the differences between the interpretation of results of grazing systems research reported in the scientific literature and the results reported by successful grazing managers; we highlight the shortcomings of most of the previously conducted grazing systems research for providing information relevant for rangeland managers who aim to achieve desired environmental and economic goals. Finally, we outline knowledge gaps and present testable hypotheses to broaden our understanding of how planned multi-paddock grazing management can be used at the ranching enterprise scale to facilitate the adaptive management of rangelands under dynamic environmental conditions. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Barnes M.,Shining Horizons Land Management LLC | Hild A.,University of Wyoming
Rangelands | Year: 2013

The article focuses on the strategic grazing management for complex creative systems. Rangelands are complex systems because the dynamic relationships between their parts result in self-organization, emergent properties, and unpredictable behavior. The discrepancy has been noted by scientists who suggest that our profession must do a better job of documenting range management at the landscape scale, identifying and recording the variety of factors associated with adaptive decision-making, and consider a less controlled approach to studying comparisons of grazing 'systems.' Particularly disappointing to managers who use rotational grazing is the apparent inability to document differences in plant growth and recovery or animal production, particularly in more arid environments. The lack of clear advantages of rotational grazing is especially apparent when pastures are small and lack plant species diversity. Adequate periods are judged by the full recovery of photosynthetic capacity of plants within preferred use areas. Grazing managers then must provide recovery periods, which coincide with growth of desired plants, for positive plant community changes to occur.

Norton B.E.,Utah State University | Barnes M.,Shining Horizons Land Management LLC | Teague R.,Texas AgriLife Research Center
Rangelands | Year: 2013

On the Ground By managing for more even animal distribution, ranch managers can increase the amount of forage accessible to livestock and raise their effective grazing capacity. Smaller paddocks and higher stocking density improve the distribution of grazing in each paddock. A landscape of many, smaller paddocks will spread grazing pressure more evenly than one of fewer, larger paddocks. © 2013 The Society for Range Management.

Barnes M.,Shining Horizons Land Management LLC | Howell J.,Del Cerro LLC
Rangelands | Year: 2013

On the Ground Grazing capacity increased substantially and rangeland vegetation measurements improved after the Howell Ranch applied strategically planned and managed grazing. Increased capacity was realized from more spatially uniform grazing distribution and harvest efficiency rather than improving conditions over time. Dividing a ranch into paddocks and grazing them sequentially, especially at high stocking density, can even out distribution of grazing and thus increase grazing capacity. More even utilization across more, smaller paddocks contributes to explaining and resolving the apparent discrepancy between successful ranch-scale applications of multiple-paddock grazing and small-scale studies that found no benefit to rotational grazing. © 2013 The Society for Range Management.

Provenza F.,Utah State University | Pringle H.,Edith Cowan University | Revell D.,CSIRO | Revell D.,University of Western Australia | And 6 more authors.
Rangelands | Year: 2013

On the Ground Landscapes are complex creative systems that are endlessly emerging, transforming, and vanishing as a result of ever-changing relationships among organisms and environments - soil, plants, herbivores, and human beings. In the process, all organisms are actively participating in creating environments; they aren't merely adapting to them. Researchers and managers attempt to understand and manage creative relationships among soil, plants, herbivores, and human beings, but we have become increasingly separated from one another in our endeavors. When we work in partnerships, we can better learn about biophysical processes and participate in managing as landscapes continually create. To do so, researchers must combine their reductionist thinking and intent to develop "best management practices" with new approaches that consider creative systems. In turn, managers must come to appreciate the value of "reductionist" research for understanding processes and developing principles that apply generally across time and space. The challenges we face in addressing "critical issues" have little to do with the issues and much to do with crossing the divides that polarize and isolate us. The irony is that working together to transcend the boundaries we create is addressing the "really big issue." © 2013 The Society for Range Management.

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