Sustainable Grazing Management in Riparian and Wetland Pasture

Project Overview

EW16-027
Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2016: $15,237.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2017
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Principal Investigator:
Caley Sowers
Coos Soil and Water Conservation District

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Agronomic: general hay and forage crops, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Additional Plants: native plants
  • Animals: bovine, goats, sheep
  • Animal Products: dairy

Practices

  • Animal Production: grazing management, grazing - multispecies, pasture fertility, grazing - rotational, housing, stocking rate, watering systems, winter forage, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: technical assistance, decision support system, demonstration, farmer to farmer, networking, workshop
  • Natural Resources/Environment: habitat enhancement, riparian buffers, riverbank protection, soil stabilization, wetlands, wildlife, carbon sequestration
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: partnerships, public participation, sustainability measures

    Abstract:

    The Sustainable Grazing Management in Riparian and Wetland Pasture 3 Day Course took place on May 10-12, 2017 in the Owen Building large conference room at the Coos County Annex. The first two days of the course consisted of a half-day of classroom activities, primarily lecture, presentations, and discussion; and a half-day in the field completing one of two group exercises.

    The location for the field portion of the first day of class was Windsong Ranch, owned by Pat Jones, who is also the Soil Conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Coquille. Windsong Ranch is located on the South Fork Coquille River, which is known for its geomorphological and hydrological issues due to past gravel mining practices and other factors, including grazing. Participants were able to assess portions of the river bank that were actively eroding, and formed groups to assess the cause of the erosion and discuss possible preventative measures. Participants were also able to assess portion of river bank that appear to be stabilizing naturally, and to observe Pat’s high-intensity riparian grazing management system in action. While on site participants also looked at forage species and discussed their various nutritional value and palatability; as well as weed management and control methods that Pat was using for undesirable toxic or invasive species.

    The second day of class included a visit to the Pierce Ranch, where participants listened to the landowner (Dan Pierce) talk about the goals he has for his property, current management techniques, and challenges that he faces. Afterwards, participants again formed groups and walked segments of Offield Creek to assess riparian condition, discuss possible issues, and propose management alternatives and monitoring needs. Groups also discussed some of the issues relating to the failed tide gate and culvert, which have resulted in significant changes to the plant community and management in the lower pastures. Groups then worked together back in the classroom on day 3 to develop their recommendations into brief presentations on which were given at the end of class.

     

    Project objectives:

    Objective 1. By improving the understanding of tools, concepts, thought processes, and principles of sustainable wetland and riparian grazing, natural resources professionals will be better able to work with other individuals, groups, and agencies to develop, teach, and implement successful grazing management strategies.

    Objective 2. To develop two demonstrational areas on actual livestock operations: one which models on-the-ground best management practices for both livestock and wildlife use of riparian areas; and one which provides plenty of material for discussion and management planning exercises.

    Objective 3. To instill a foundational understanding of the ecological services which healthy riparian zones and wetland areas provide, and best management practices necessary to sustainably use these areas for livestock grazing.

    Objective 4. To provide a hands-on learning experience in which participants of the course will be given an actual livestock operation situation, and using a collaborative adaptive management approach, design grazing management alternatives to achieve riparian objectives.

    Objective 5. To create a forum in which natural resources professionals; state and federal agency personnel; and local agricultural producers can explore the various influencing factors surrounding sustainability of grazing in sensitive riparian and wetland areas.

     

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.