A partnership including private landowners, a contract sheep and goat grazier, Washington State University Extension, USDA/ARS, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Big Bend Resource Conservation and Development Council joined forces to investigate the use of multi-species grazing as a tool, in combination with herbicides, mechanical clipping and/or tillage, in the control of noxious weed infestations. Grazing combinations of cattle, sheep and goats were evaluated as a tool in an integrated pest management strategy in the control of invasive plants. Two field sites were selected in Eastern Washington (i.e., Sprague Lake and the Barker Ranch) to monitor treatment impact over three grazing seasons (2004-2006).
- Management Support Group (MSG): One MSG group made up of 6-12 participants and livestock owners involved in the SARE/PDP, Noxious Weed Control Through Multi-Species Grazing and other cooperators will be formed by January 1, 2003.
Holistic system: Develop a holistic systems approach on two ranch units, involving 2,600 acres, to address the control of invasive plants and noxious weeds, including Russian olive, scotch thistle, perennial pepper-weed and knapweed species. This system will evaluate weed management effectiveness; long-term sustainability of control and it will outline a process that is economically, environmentally and socially sound.
Overall effectiveness: Compare overall effectiveness of the holistic system to an herbicide only system.
Information dispersal: Provide information to producers and the community to improve their ability to formulate land management decisions based on sustainability of the weed control methods.
Producer involvement in studies: Involve 10 additional producers in designing and implementing studies to insure the information meets the needs of producers and is transferred to a larger audience.
Hands-on teaching: Provide participants with a deeper understanding of the concepts of multi-species grazing by teaching what they have learned to the public and their peers at 3 tours held one per year beginning in 2005.
Enterprise evaluation: Evaluate the feasibility of adding additional enterprises such as hair sheep, cashmere fiber producing goats and meat goats.
Forage quality: Determine if forage quality is adequate to meet animal nutritional needs at various stages of plant growth and biological stages of the livestock species used.
Livestock management: Evaluate the effectiveness of each livestock species in utilizing each noxious weed species. Determine the most appropriate livestock species to be used at different stages of growth for each noxious weed. Gain knowledge of when, how much and how often to graze the target plant species for maximum impact on them while having minimum impact on the desirable species.
Secondary compounds: Determine if there are any secondary compounds that may inhibit the utilization of the noxious weeds, as well as the impact on soils and plant germination.
Professional publications: Publish information and results of the study in two professional journals and two regional media publications.