Floristic Quality of Native Tallgrass Pastures in Eastern South Dakota

2009 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 30 native pastures in eastern South Dakota in 2008 and 2009. Analysis indicated that native prairies managed as preserves had 1.6 times the FQI than privately managed prairies for livestock production. Grazed prairies at heavy, moderate, conservative, or non-grazed had an FQI of 32, 47, 64, and 53, respectively. Pastures where herbicides were frequently used had an FQI of 36 compared to 56 when herbicieds were infrequently or not used. Over reliance on herbicieds and heavy grazing has likely decreased the diveristy of our native pastures in the tallgrass prairie region of South Dakota.

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 resource area (MLRA) 102A in eastern SD.


1) We determined floristic quality inventories on 30 native prairie tracts in eastern South Dakota under various management practices.
2) Findings were reported at a regional workshop for land managers in Iowa in spring 2009.
3) Preliminary findings were shared at the at the 2009 annual Meeting for the Society for Range Management.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

  • 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 understanding of 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