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Article

Managing Tallgrass Prairies for Productivity and Ecological Function: A Long-Term Grazing Experiment in the Southern Great Plains, USA

1
United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66502, USA
2
United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, El Reno, OK 73036, USA
3
United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Stoneville, MS 38776, USA
4
United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Azle, TX 76020, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agronomy 2019, 9(11), 699; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9110699
Received: 3 July 2019 / Revised: 22 October 2019 / Accepted: 28 October 2019 / Published: 30 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grassland Management for Sustainable Agroecosystems)
The Great Plains of the USA is one of largest expanses of prairie ecosystems in the world. Prairies have been extensively converted to other land uses. The remaining prairie ecosystems are important for livestock grazing and provide benefits including habitat for avian, terrestrial, and aquatic species, carbon regulation, and hydrologic function. While producers, land management agencies, and some researchers have promoted livestock management using rotational stocking for increased production efficiency and enhanced ecosystem function, scientific literature has not provided a consensus on whether rotational stocking results in increased plant biomass or animal productivity. To address this research need, we established long-term grazing research using an adaptive management framework to encompass a wide range of production and ecological interactions on native grassland pastures. This paper describes objectives, design, and implementation of the long-term study to evaluate productivity and ecological effects of beef cow–calf management and production under continuous system (CS) or rotational system (RS) on native tallgrass prairie. Findings from 2009 to 2015 indicate that plant biomass and animal productivity were similar in the two grazing management systems. There were some indicators that forage nutritive value of standing biomass and soil nutrient content were enhanced in the RS system compared with the CS, yet individual calf body weight (BW) at weaning was greater in the CS. This prepares us to engage with producers to help determine the focus for the next phase of the research. View Full-Text
Keywords: long-term agroecosystem research network; LTAR; rotational grazing long-term agroecosystem research network; LTAR; rotational grazing
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MDPI and ACS Style

Steiner, J.L.; Starks, P.J.; Neel, J.P.S.; Northup, B.; Turner, K.E.; Gowda, P.; Coleman, S.; Brown, M. Managing Tallgrass Prairies for Productivity and Ecological Function: A Long-Term Grazing Experiment in the Southern Great Plains, USA. Agronomy 2019, 9, 699. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9110699

AMA Style

Steiner JL, Starks PJ, Neel JPS, Northup B, Turner KE, Gowda P, Coleman S, Brown M. Managing Tallgrass Prairies for Productivity and Ecological Function: A Long-Term Grazing Experiment in the Southern Great Plains, USA. Agronomy. 2019; 9(11):699. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9110699

Chicago/Turabian Style

Steiner, Jean L., Patrick J. Starks, James P.S. Neel, Brian Northup, Kenneth E. Turner, Prasanna Gowda, Sam Coleman, and Michael Brown. 2019. "Managing Tallgrass Prairies for Productivity and Ecological Function: A Long-Term Grazing Experiment in the Southern Great Plains, USA" Agronomy 9, no. 11: 699. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9110699

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