It Doesn’t Take Long for a Change in Grazing to Make a Difference

Here is an illustration of managed grazing beginning to heal an overgrazed landscape in the Nebraska Sand Hills. On the left side of each photo is a neighboring set stocked, low stock density pasture. On the right side is shorter grazing period a moderate stock density. With a little more infrastructure development, they will move to even shorter grazing periods and higher stock density.

We had posted the first two photos in this sequence last fall. I visited McGinn Ranch near Anselmo NE again last week and took the next photos in the series. More perennial grasses are taking hold in response to managed recovery periods and time controlled grazing. This is just two years into the change in grazing management.

This is how this spot looked in 2014 when I made my first visit to McGinn Ranch. Their side of the fence looked pretty much like the neighbors side because the management was the same. Set stocked for several months at a low stock density.

gerrish-mcginn-ranch-2014
This was November of 2015 following a single season of management-intensive grazing. The first season there were quite a few annual grasses and forbs making up that ground cover on the right side of the fence.
gerrish-mcginn-ranch-2015
This August 2016 just ahead of the herd coming in on the pasture. The left side has had cattle on it continuously since May.
gerrish-mcginn-ranch-2016
Sand bluestem is one of the perennial native species recolonizing the blowout.
gerrish-sand-bluestem
Sand paspalum is another native warm season grass taking hold. We also saw Scribner’s panicum, blue grama, sideoats grama, switchgrass, tickle grass, and western wheatgrass reestablishing themselves on the loose sand. Note the fineness of the sand here.
gerrish-other-mcginn-grasses
That’s just two short years!
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