Short duration (≤24 h), high stocking density grazing systems (e.g., mob grazing) mimics historic prairie grazing patterns of American bison (Bison bison), and should minimize selective grazing. We compared mob [125 cow-calf pairs on either 0.65 ha for 12 h; or 1.3 ha for 24 h] vs. rotational [25 cow-calf pairs on 8.1 ha for 20 days starting in mid-May with or without 2,4-D application prior to grazing; and 15 days starting mid-April (no herbicide)] grazing systems based on forage utilization and impact to Artemisia absinthium (absinth wormwood) in a tall grass pasture of Eastern South Dakota. Grass height and density, and Artemisia absinthium patch volume were quantified pre- and post-grazing at sampling points along multiple transects. Mob grazing had >75% forage utilization, whereas rotational grazing averaged 50% (all consumption). Within a grazing season, three grazing systems suppressed Artemisia absinthium patches with rotation/spray (100% decrease) > mob (65 ± 10% decrease) > mid-May rotation (41 ± 16% decrease), whereas Artemisia absinthium patches in the mid-April rotation followed by summer rest dramatically increased in size. Artemisia absinthium patches <19,000 cm3 were browsed, whereas larger patches were trampled in mob-grazed areas, but avoided in rotational grazing. All Artemisia absinthium patches had regrowth the year following any grazing event.
Part of the book: Forage Groups
Mob-grazing strives to maximize forage utilization and minimize selective grazing by using high stocking densities in small paddocks for short durations (12–24 hr). Rotational-grazing uses low stocking densities for a longer time period, retaining about half of the original available forage; although selective grazing can occur. Three cattle (Bos taurus × Bos indicus) grazing intensities: mob- (stocking densities from 32,000 to 67,000 kg ha−1; duration—24 hr); rotation (stocking density—2500 kg ha−1; duration—35 d); and non-grazed systems were compared based on forage utilization and changes to western snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis) (WS) patch volume in a 2-year South Dakota study. Pre- and post-grazing forage height was measured every 2.5 m along multiple 50-m transects with WS patch volume measured every 5 m. Forage utilization (consumed and trampled) ranged from 42 to 90% in mob-grazed areas, and harvest efficiency (forage consumed) ranged from 15 to 64%. WS patch volumes decreased by ≥45% in mob-grazed treatments compared with no change in rotational-grazing and increased cover in non-grazed areas. WS pre-graze patch size influenced mob-grazing impact; patches >6500 cm3 were browsed or trampled to a greater extent than smaller patches.
Part of the book: Forage Groups
In the Northern Great Plains (NGP), the combined impacts of land-use and climate variability have the potential to place many soils on the tipping point of sustainability. The objectives of this study were to assess if the conversion of grassland to croplands occurred on fragile landscapes in the North America Northern Great Plains. South Dakota and Nebraska were selected for this study because they are located in a climate transition zone. We visually classified 43,200 and 38,400 points in South Dakota and Nebraska, respectively, from high-resolution imagery in 2006, 2012, and 2014 into five different categories (cropland, grassland, habitat, NonAg, and water). The sustainability risk of the land-use changes was assessed based on the land capability class (LCC) scores at the selected sites. Sites with LCC scores ≤ 4 are considered sustainable for crop production if appropriate management practices are followed. Scores ≥ 6 are not considered suitable for row crop production. From 2006 to 2014, 910,000 and 360,000 ha of land were converted from grassland to cropland in South Dakota and Nebraska, respectively. Approximately 92 and 80% of the grassland conversion to croplands occurred on land suitable for crop production (land capability class, LCC ≤ 4) in South Dakota and Nebraska, respectively.
Part of the book: Land Use Change and Sustainability
The North American Great Plains tallgrass prairie was once a system of native cool and warm season grasses, which have been degraded by non-native invasive plants. Native grass restoration is highly desirable to improve ecosystem functions and productivity. In this two-year study, the impact of fire, herbicide, and nitrogen on productivity and the presence of invasive species [primarily the cool season grass, smooth brome (Bromus inermis Leyss.)] and native warm season native grass species [big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Vitman), sideoats and blue grama (Bouteloua curtipendula (Michx.) Torr.), and B. gracilis (Willd. Ex Kunth) Lag. ex Griffiths] were investigated. Spring fire or a glyphosate application increased warm season grass biomass and decreased cool season grass biomass at peak warm season growth (August) during the treatment year. A second consecutive year of fire or herbicide further increased warm season grass biomass. If left untreated in the second year, cool season grasses tended to increase when sampled in August. Long-term management implementation is needed to suppress the tenacious cool season species and encourage the reestablishment of warm season grass populations.
Part of the book: Grasses and Grassland Aspects