SDSU Beef Day 2020 Summary Publication

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Among management systems intended to increase heterogeneity on the landscape, patch burn grazing (PBG) is by far the most prominent and researched method. Though prescribed burning is seen as a healthy disturbance in grassland ecosystems, many landowners in the Northern Great Plains have an aversion to fire. This is due to safety and liability concerns as well as concerns over forage losses and limitations of labor, equipment, and insurance to successfully carry out prescribed burns. Therefore, there is a critical need to evaluate alternative, non-fire management strategies that will encourage rangeland heterogeneity. A study was conducted in 2017-2018 at the Cottonwood Field Station in southwest South Dakota to test the effectiveness of heavy winter patch grazing to simulate fire. The objectives of this study were to determine the extent to which WPG can serve as an alternative management strategy to patch burn grazing to 1) increase vegetation structural heterogeneity and 2) alter livestock grazing behavior to maintain structural heterogeneity through time.


South Dakota State University


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