Final Report for FS05-190
This research team of ranchers, scientists and photographer set out to document the changes over time to a portion of the 11,000-acre West Ranch to see if animal impact could increase forage and soil health enough to halt cedar encroachment. The team carefully monitored 4 grazing management “treatments” in twice-yearly sessions for about three years to yield: 13,600 data points, a totally unique video of live soil meso-fauna and well over1800 photographs. Four newsletter/newspaper articles, two public outreach field days and 24 showings of the video let a wide audience know about the project. Data was analyzed and then grouped into a permanent record to aid in continued exploration of the effects of animal impact on the forage and the brush of the West Ranch. The response of the land to erratic rainfall, the variety of expertise in monitoring techniques and its subjective nature in some cases, made laboratory-style data impossible to gather; but the team persevered, developed meaningful collaborative relationships, accepted that this study is done out in the real world of ranching, and concluded we need to monitor for about 10 more years to show clearly what trends emerge from the treatments. The West Ranch will continue Holistic Management Planned Grazing as its primary treatment over most of the ranch.