SUSTAINING AND ENHANCING SOUTHERN PLAINS RANGELAND AND PASTURE LANDSCAPES
Project Number: 6216-21630-008-00
Start Date: Nov 02, 2007
End Date: Nov 01, 2012
1) Develop management and monitoring tools based on improved estimates of carbon sequestration and loss potential of Southern Plains mixed-grass prairie under alternative grazing systems.
2) Determine the interactions of season and frequency of prescribed burning and livestock grazing on ecosystem function, vegetation heterogeneity, and animal responses in the southern mixed-grass prairie.
3) Determine the impact of plant diversity (including invasive weeds) on establishment, productivity, and stability of degraded cropland and arid pastures seeded with improved native and introduced germplasm.
3.1) Evaluate the herbage production and soil responses of grass monocultures and in 2-, 4-, 8-, and 16-way mixtures of native and introduced grasses and grass-forb mixtures in pasture plantings for revegetation of marginal crop land in the Southern Plains.
3.2) Evaluate the use of legumes as a nitrogen source for grass-legume mixtures for reclaiming marginal croplands in the Southern Plains.
3.3) Develop optimum methods and timing for winter seeding of eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides)
3.4) Develop establishment and management practices to integrate Texas bluegrass (Poa arachnifera) into Southern Plains complementary grazing systems.
4) Develop decision support tools for planning and management of forage-based livestock systems for the southern mixed-grass prairie and its associated marginal crop lands to extend seasonal forage yields and produce acceptable livestock products across wider gradients of soils and environmental conditions.
Major red meat production assets of the Southern Plains include temperate winter weather and a high forage production potential from a combination of rangeland, perennials established on marginal farmland, and annuals on farmland. Major natural resource problems include drought, over-used rangeland, farmland highly susceptible to erosion, weeds, difficulty in grass and forb establishment, low fertility on farmland seeded to forages, and low forage quality from late summer through winter. The challenge is to develop economic, energy-efficient grazing systems for the area while maintaining or improving the plant, soil, water, wildlife, and aesthetic resources. The overall approach is to gather information on forage production and quality, and cattle gain on native rangelands, perennial forages growing in marginal farmlands, and annual farmed forages as affected by management, climate, and soils. The information will be used to develop and test forage and grazing management strategies for red meat production systems.