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AgriLife research: Multi-paddock grazing is superior to continuous grazing
Date:6/15/2011

VERNON A long-term study verifies multi-paddock grazing improves vegetation, soil health and animal production relative to continuous grazing in large-scale ranches, according to Texas AgriLife Research scientists.

The study measured the impacts on vegetation and soils achieved by commercial ranchers who adapted management practices in response to changing circumstances to achieve desirable outcomes, said Dr. Richard Teague, AgriLife Research rangeland ecology and management scientist in Vernon.

At the ranch scale, when multi-paddock grazing is managed to give best vegetation and animal performance, it is superior to continuous grazing in relation to conservation and restoration of resources, provision of ecosystem goods and services, and ranch profitability, he said.

Teague said this study differed from those conducted by researchers who investigated multi-paddock grazing in relatively small experimental areas, without managing adaptively the way a successful, conservation-oriented commercial rancher would.

In rangeland ecosystems, maintaining normal soil and ecosystem function over the landscape and watershed is possible only if there is adequate plant cover and species composition to provide protection from soil loss, he said. This allows microorganisms to prosper and maintain ecosystem functions such as water-holding capacity, control of erosion, soil fertility and forage production, he said.

"In our study we examined the accumulated impacts of nine years of different grazing management categories on vegetation and soil parameters at a commercial-ranch scale," he said.

The study evaluated the impact of multi-paddock grazing at a high stocking rate compared to light continuous and heavy continuous grazing on neighboring commercial ranches in three proximate counties in North Texas tall grass prairie. The same management had been conducted on all ranches for at least the previous nine years.

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Contact: Dr. Richard Teague
r-teague@tamu.edu
940-552-9941
Texas A&M AgriLife Communications
Source:Eurekalert

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