New tools for rangeland and pasture monitoring

TitleNew tools for rangeland and pasture monitoring
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsHerrick JE, Courtright E, Bestelmeyer BT, Burkett LM, Havstad K, Laliberte, Andrea S., Rango A., Repp J., Van Zee J
Conference NameNational Conference on Grazingland Proceedings
Series TitleThird National Confrence on Grazing Lands
Date PublishedDecember 10-13,
Conference LocationSt. Louis, MO
ARIS Log Number204786
Keywordsdata, managers, monitoring, tools
AbstractThis paper describes a set of tools that help land managers easily collect, analyze, interpret and store data that are most relevant to their management objectives. The toolbox includes vegetation and soil methods that are nationally applied by one or more federal agencies, together with additional methods that are appropriate for rangeland, pastureland and can be applied to annual cropping systems. The methods can be applied to small and large farms and ranches, and to large watersheds and are relevant to both production and conservation objectives. The tools include a two-volume manual, a set of Excel spreadsheets that automatically calculate indicators for a single plot, and a computer database/field data entry program that automatically generates and compares indicators for multiple plots. A 40-page "Quick Start" volume provides step-by-step instructions for completing four basic monitoring methods along with rapid semi-quantitative alternative methods. Volume II includes additional methods, a monitoring system design guide, and information to help interpret results and apply them to different management objectives. The Excel Spreadsheets are identical to the paper dataforms printed in the manuals. The Access database/field data entry system includes all of the data entry forms from the manual, together with data forms for other commonly used methods. When applied at the farm or ranch level, no database experience is required. The user simply enters the data as they would on paper, and indicators are automatically generated for each plot. Data can be entered directly in the field using a "Tablet" computer, or on a standard personal computer. Both the monitoring manual and the database/field data entry system were designed as "toolboxes". Different sets of tools are selected for different jobs. The paper describes how to apply the methods to livestock production, wildlife habitat management, control of invasive species and other objectives. It ends with a brief overview of new monitoring tools the Jornada is developing, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) that can be programmed (GPS) to collect high resolution photographs across large areas.