Grazing Management

TitleGrazing Management
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication1991
AuthorsHerbel C.H., Pieper, Rex D.
EditorSkujins J.
Book TitleSemiarid Lands and Deserts: Soil Resource and Reclamation
PublisherMarcel Dekker, Inc.
CityNew York, NY
Keywordsenvironmental factors, increased erosion, livestock, management, rangelands, reduced productivity
AbstractA major use of semiarid and arid lands ("rangelands" in this chapter) is grazing or browsing by livestock and wild herbivores. Rangelands also provide habitat for wildlife, recreational opportunities, water, and aesthetic values. Animal production on rangelands reduces the requirements for nonrenewable fossil fuels and utilizes resources not readily usable by other means. Semiarid and arid rangelands are often fragile and subject to accelerated soil erosion if not managed appropriately. If rangelands are mismanaged so that plants fail to provide sufficient soil cover, the composition of the plant community changes, resulting in reduced productivity and increased erosion. Continued abuse of the rangeland system can result in severe soil degradation. This does not imply that proper grazing is destructive; some plants produce more biomass with moderate livestock grazing than with protection from livestock grazing. Some native plant communities evolved with grazing use by native animals, whereas other communities evolved with little or no utilization by herbivores. However, native plant communities are not always the most productive under intensive animal grazing (Herbel, 1982). Revegetation with introduced or improved plant species may dramatically increase the productivity of rangelands (Herbel, 1983). Grazing of livestock is controlled to some degree by range managers and pastoralists around the world. However, many important environmental factors are beyond control of the manager, but these factors need to be considered in planning grazing management and future research on the subject.