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Conservation

All Conservation Content

Small herd of mixed cattle grazing rangeland in late fall.

S.D. Producers’ Willingness To Adopt Patch Burn Grazing vs. Winter Patch Grazing

Patch-burn grazing and winter patch grazing are heterogenous rangeland management practices that aim to increase the diversity of grass composition to benefit wildlife and maintain livestock production. To learn about producers’ desire to adopt these practices, we conducted an online survey between November 2019 and January 2020.

Earthworms on the soil surface inside a white hard-plastic ring, after mustard-vinegar solution was drained down through the soil profile forcing earthworms out onto the surface in order to be counted.

How’s Life in the Soil? Ask (Count) the Earthworms.

Earthworms are ‘very special’ creatures on earth, and their contribution in soil nutrient cycling and fertility management has been acknowledged from the beginning of agriculture. So, the question needs to be asked, how can we help improve earthworm populations?

Two rows of corn at V5 leaf growth stage looking down from above. Between the corn rows there are 3 separate cotton strips placed on the soil surface just before burial in a 2-inch-deep trench. The cotton strips are numbered for their identification after recovery at three different dates.

Cotton Strip Soil Test: Rapid Assessment of Soil Microbial Activity and Diversity in the Field

Soil has always been considered as a living system due to its biological components: fungi, bacteria and plant roots. Under several ongoing research projects, we started researching how we can use ‘cotton strip assay’ to compare different cover crop mixes to optimize field soil activity and build up better soil health.

Small herd of mixed cattle grazing rangeland in late fall.

Producer Views on Patch Burn Grazing vs. Winter Patch Grazing in S.D.

Traditional rangeland management promotes uniform forage utilization, yet causes detrimental effects on the richness of plant species and wildlife habitat. Therefore, management practices that increase heterogeneity in vegetation play an important role in developing diverse habitat types and preserving grassland wildlife species.

Dormant pasture in Tripp County with adequate residual cover.

Getting Ready for Winter on the Range

During periods of summer and fall drought, winter grazing opportunities may be limited or not available at all. Ranch managers must ensure that enough residual plant height and vegetation cover of the soil surface is available through the winter to aid in recovery of the rangeland.

A dirt road leading to a winder energy station in the middle of a grassland area.

Understanding Contract Language and Restoring Native Grassland Damage after Energy Development

Energy development on private lands can result in locally heavy land manipulation. Of particular concern is the manipulation of native grasslands and other sensitive areas and how it will affect those areas in the short-and-long-term.

Field with livestock grazing with a crane and wind turbine in the background

Best Management Practices Guide for Restoration of Native Grasslands and Sensitive Sites Resulting from Energy or Industrial Development

A general guide to South Dakota landowners who are considering or who have allowed energy or other industrial development on their property.

Flowering Canada thistle distributing seed in a pasture.

Dense Seeding Can Reduce Canada Thistle in Planted Grasslands

Canada thistle is a common invader in grassland plantings. Over the past decade, researchers and land managers have experimented with controlling Canada thistle in planted grasslands through increasing competition from desirable plants.

A herd of mixed cattle grazing in a vast, open rangeland.

Biodiversity on Rangelands: What Role Does Grazing Have?

Livestock producers have a direct role in maintaining and creating biodiversity in grassland ecosystems, by choosing when, where, and how long to graze.

healthy rangeland with a diverse variety of grasses and plants throughout

Importance of Plant Biodiversity in Rangelands

We often think of biodiversity in the context of animals, such as those that are threatened or endangered. However, biodiversity is equally important among plants, which are found throughout South Dakota, and in particular, in our rangelands.