In the southwestern U.S., many rangelands have converted from native grasslands to woody shrublands dominated by creosotebush (Larrea tridentate) and honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), threatening ecosystem health. Both creosotebush and mesquite have well-developed long root systems that allow them to outcompete neighboring plants. Thus, control of these two invasive shrubs is essential for revegetation in arid rangelands. Simulation models are valuable tools for describing invasive shrub growth and interaction between shrubs and other perennial grasses and for evaluating quantitative changes in ecosystem properties linked to shrub invasion and shrub control. In this study, a hybrid and multiscale modeling approach with two process-based models, ALMANAC and APEX was developed. Through ALMANAC application, plant parameters and growth cycles of creosotebush and mesquite were characterized based on field data. The developed shrub growth curves and parameters were subsequently used in APEX to explore productivity and range condition at a larger field scale. APEX was used to quantitatively evaluate the effect of shrub reductions on vegetation and water and soil qualities in various topological conditions. The results of this study showed that this multi modeling approach is capable of accurately predicting the impacts of shrubs on soil water resources.
Part of the book: Arid Environments and Sustainability
A process-based simulation model of natural grasslands and improved pastures can be used to compare mean productivity and stability of forage productivity across years, agroecological regions, and management approaches. Model simulations can help farmers develop management practices to optimize livestock stocking rates and nutrient management for native and improved grasses on different soils with varying rainfall amounts. Likewise, forages are adapted to a wide variety of soils, rainfall zones, and latitudes. The objective of this chapter is to describe the Agricultural Land Management Alternative with Numerical Assessment Criteria (ALMANAC) model that simulates a wide variety of environmental and management impacts on forage production, soil health, and conservation concerns, including nutrient and sediment losses. We describe the various processes simulated in the model and input data requirements. We also describe how to derive plant parameters for various forage plant species. The model has been applied to simulate forage yields across years and diverse environments in the U.S. and tested using published forage yield data from Natural Resources Conservation Service, United States Dept. of Agric. Many common native and introduced grasses or grass mixtures in the U.S. have been successfully simulated. We also describe and discuss knowledge gaps for the model that future research should address to improve this and similar simulation models.
Part of the book: Forage Groups