Mob grazing effects on nutrient runoff in cool season pastures

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2012: $10,974.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Grant Recipient: Virginia Tech
Region: Southern
State: Virginia
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: sorghum (milo), wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, grazing management, grazing - continuous, grazing - rotational

    Proposal abstract:

    Grazed beef is an important sector of agricultural production in the U.S. and will continue to attempt to meet rising demands. Novel stocking practices that have the potential to increase production while improving pastureland need to be scientifically evaluated. Rotational stocking systems have demonstrated increased production and improved water quality of runoff as compared to unmanaged, continuous grazing. Ultra-high density stocking, commonly known as mob stocking, has recently emerged as a grazing system with potential for improving pastureland health and, in return, increasing production. The environmental impact of mob stocking, including runoff water quality and soil health, needs to be evaluated to determine the validity of the claims that the practice is sustainable. The student-led portion of this project will evaluate the differences in water quality of runoff from mob stocking as compared to rotational and continuous stocking systems. Volume and water quality of runoff will be measured by collecting runoff from rainfall simulations performed at locations in pastures managed under the three treatments. A statistical analysis of repeated measurements at two replicate sites will be performed under the guidance of professional statisticians to compare the three treatments. Recommendations of whether or not to accept mob grazing as a sustainable practice will be disseminated via a Master's thesis as well as planned demonstrations in future years.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Compare runoff volumes among mob, rotationally, and continuously grazed pastures.
    2. Compare sediment losses in runoff among mob, rotationally, and continuously grazed pastures.
    3. Compare nutrient losses in runoff from mob, rotationally, and continuously grazed pastures.

    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.