Burning and grazing cool-season grasslands to promote native grass recruitment for agronomic, ecological, and social benefits

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2007: $9,972.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Grant Recipient: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Randall Jackson
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: general hay and forage crops, grass (misc. perennial), hay


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, grazing management, grazing - rotational
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Production Systems: holistic management

    Proposal abstract:

    I am testing combinations of burning and grazing to blend native plant conservation and livestock production by promoting and maintaining C3 and C4 grass coexistence. Information from this project will help farmers and environmentalists work toward a common goal of contributing to the restoration of native plant communities, while maintaining a productive agricultural landscape. This farmer-initiated research project is labor intensive, so field assistance to achieve my goals is necessary. The NCR-SARE grant will support an undergraduate assistant and provide a farmer honorarium. With the assistance of an undergraduate student and collaboration with the farmer, I will monitor the persistence of C4 native grasses that were sown into a C3 dominated pasture under burning, grazing, and burning x grazing treatments. By measuring forage and root production, I will assess the agronomic and ecological effects of this coexistence. Improving our understanding of coexistence and how to manage for it should lead to greater adoption of conservation practices, which has positive social implications when considering how society at-large views the farmer. Products of this experiment will include a MS degree in a multidisciplinary program, extension outreach fact sheets and brochures, peer-reviewed publications, presentations at field-days and conferences, and involvement and interaction between the farming and conservation/research communities.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Results from this experiment will help determine whether burning and grazing can be combined for improved forage and root production (agronomic and ecological benefits). In addition, these practices will highlight farmers as land stewards, which promotes rural prosperity (social benefit).

    The expected short-term outcomes of this project are:
    1.Management techniques to promote the re-introduction and recruitment of warm season, native grasses into cool season, non-native grass pastures under grazing and burning practices.

    2.Quantification of root production and forage production under grazing, burning, and a combination of grazing and burning.

    The intermediate-term outcomes are:
    1.Increase farm participation in the conservation effort by promoting the re-establishment of native plant species.

    2.Burning for agricultural benefit should promote sustainable farming.

    The long-term outcomes of this project will help many stakeholders (researchers, farmers, policy makers, general public, conservationists) envision the integration of conservation efforts with farm management. This model should encourage adoption of new techniques and practices that improve production while enhancing the environment. These outcomes strongly fit the mission of NCR-SARE, which strengthens farmer profitability while improving the environment by supporting sustainable research.

    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.