From Farms, Land and Ranch Real Estate

Range Condition: Key To Sustained Ranch Productivity

Posted in: Texas Ranches, New Mexico Ranches, Colorado Farm and Ranch, Cattle Ranches, Ranch Resources
By Allan McGinty and Larry D. White

Have you ever heard a rancher say “Sure I raise livestock, but more importantly, I raise grass?” Forage serves as the foundation for all livestock and/or wildlife operation. The “state of health” of the range forage base directly impacts short-term cash flow and sustained ranch productivity. Therefore, it is imperative that ranch operators understand these relationships and utilize techniques that continually monitor the condition of the forage base as impacted by past grazing management decisions.

What Is Range Condition?
Range condition can be described as the “state of health” of the range. More specifically, range condition is an ecological measure of the current condition of the range as compared to the potential (often called “climax”). Plant species composition is the criteria used to make this determination.

Range condition is evaluated for each range site on a ranch. Range sites are those areas which have the potential for prducing similar amounts and kinds of vegetation (i.e.,shallow hillside site, deep upland site, draw site, etc.). Sites are determined by climatic, soil, topographic and vegetational features. A complete listing and description of all range sites on a ranch can be obtained from the Soil Conservation Service (SCS).

Range condition is determined by comparing the present vegetation composition of a range site to the potential, as described by the SCS technical guide. For example, the predicted species composition of a desert grassland-loamy range site, at its highest ecological potential, is 90% grass, 5% woody species and 5% forbs More...

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