Floristic Quality of Native Tallgrass Pastures in Eastern South Dakota

2008 Annual Report for GNC08-098

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2008: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Grant Recipient: South Dakota State University
Region: North Central
State: South Dakota
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Alexander Smart
South Dakota State University

Floristic Quality of Native Tallgrass Pastures in Eastern South Dakota


Floristic quality index (FQI) inventories were conducted on 18 privately owned pastures and 8 preserves managed by public or non-for profit agencies in late summer or early fall 2008 in eastern South Dakota. Preliminary analysis indicated that native prairies managed as preserves had 1.6 times the FQI than privately managed prairies for livestock production. Prairies grazed at conservative stocking rates had the highest FQI. Moderate grazing or no grazing was similar in FQI. Heavy grazing had the lowest FQI. Frequent use of herbicides reduced FQI by 36% compared to infrequent or no use of herbicides.

Objectives/Performance Targets

1) Determine floristic quality inventory and effects of past management history on at least 16 privately owned native pastures.
2) Educate producers, extension and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) personnel about past management influences on floristic quality of native pastures.
3) Assist NRCS personnel in the development of ecological site descriptions and plant community models for major land resources area (MLRA) 102A in eastern SD.


1) We determined floristic quality inventories on 26 native prairie tracts in eastern South Dakota under various management practices. More sites are needed to completely balance the design so that the herbicide by grazing interaction can be assessed properly.
2) We intend to incorporate findings into field day presentations planned for summer 2009.
3) Preliminary findings will be shared with the scientific community at the 2009 annual Meeting for the Society for Range Management. Additional meetings are planned for 2009 to disseminate findings to NRCS personnel to assist in development of ecological site descriptions for native plant communities in MLRA 102A.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

New understanding of how the floristic quality of native prairie pastures in eastern South Dakota can be threatened by heavy grazing and frequent use of herbicides by the research team. Also how conservative grazing is beneficial to preserving the floristic quality compared to no grazing.


Alexander Smart
Associate Professor
South Dakota State University
Box 2170
Brookings, SD 57007
Office Phone: 6056884017