Pawnee Buttes Grass Tour recap

Pawnee Buttes. Photo credit Greg Hobbs.

From The Fence Post (Rachel Gabel):

The Pawnee Buttes Seeds grass tour met Aug. 15-16 at the Lonesome Pines Land and Cattle Company in Grover, Colo., an area firmly in grazing country. The program concentrated on what rancher Jim Sturrock has deemed the five dimensions of ranching: landscape, time, animals, forage resources and the unexpected…

Soil health, mycorrhizal fungi, the geology of the land, CO2, photosynthetic cycles, weed identification and control, and biodiversity were all on the slate. The group traveled to neighboring properties to study control methods with varying degrees of success including winter grazing and differently timed applications of herbicide. Plant encroachment discussed included Fringed Sage, Juniper, Cheat Grass, cacti, skunk bush and toad flax. The group was able to study land management in action, see the effects of grazing cycles, and soil health in action.

“When external factors act upon an ecosystem, the living relationship between all things in that environment are at risk of changing,” he said. “A change or reduction in biodiversity can have negative impacts on plants and animals, both wild and domesticated, which depend on that habitat.”

Overgrazing can cause forage to die off and be displaced by competing shrubs and ungrazed grasses at a lower nutritional value. These encroaching plants, he said, often use more water, impacting the local watershed as well as impacting soil fertility and erosion rates.

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