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From the News Archives ...

"Green grazing" brings back native plants

A growing number of grassfarmers are practicing "green grazing" or "conservation grazing," a type of management that is specifically designed to restore grazing land to a more natural and sustainable condition.

The T.O. Cattle Company in San Juan Bautista, California has been practicing green grazing since 1993. This process involves carefully controlling herd size and herd movement to "mimic natural disturbance of native ungulates on the landscape." In other words, the cattle are managed so that they have a similar impact on the land as native grazers, which in California include Tule elk, pronghorn, and deer.

Careful monitoring of the project shows that green grazing has: 1) increased the number and vigor of native plants, 2) increased the vegetative cover of stream banks, 3) expanded wetlands, 4) hastened the natural decomposition of cow manure, and 5) extended the growing season of the grassland. In addition, from 1998 to 2000, the percentage of perennial grasses increased from 40 to 50 percent.

Results of this grazing experiment will be presented at the Society for Range Management - 2001 Annual Conference in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

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