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Healthy Grasslands Series

All Healthy Grasslands Series Content

Prescribed burn taking place in a pasture.

Fire as a Management Tool

When planned for and implemented appropriately fire is a tool that can have tremendous benefits to your grassland community.

Group of black cattle near a stock dam that’s drying up under drought conditions.

Drought Planning

A drought plan will be an essential component to your overall grazing plan, as it provides guidance in making decisions during critical times when forage may be lacking.

Smooth bromegrass growing in an open grassland.

Introduced Grasses and Forbs

While native grasslands contribute greatly to the integrity of the overall grassland community in South Dakota, the use of introduced grasses has proven a popular alternative for some producers.

Herd of cattle swath grazing hay in a winter pasture.

Swath/Bale Grazing

Swath grazing and bale grazing are harvest systems that mesh haying and grazing techniques. Generally, the objective is to reduce labor and equipment expenses by allowing livestock to consume the hay crop in the field.

Producer holding a clump of healthy, plant-rich soil.

Fertilizing Grasslands

Grassland fertilization, like many other grassland management topics, is highly dependent on certain parameters, such as soil type, vegetation type and harvest methods.

Well-managed grassland area adjacent to a wetland.

Managing Livestock Attractants Near Water

In the event that your pasture includes riparian areas, such as streams, rivers, lakes or ponds, you’ll want to take special care of these habitats. A riparian area is the space immediately adjacent to the shore, where water and land interact.

Group of ranchers on horseback surveying a vast, rolling rangeland.

Managing and Protecting Grasslands for the Future

Grasslands are a valuable resource for South Dakota, and many of our core industries rely on the perpetuation of healthy grasslands for agriculture, recreation and tourism. Regardless of goals and objectives, many grassland landowners desire assistance with short and long-term grassland management goals.

An upland sandpiper bird nestled in a healthy grassland area.


Not only will well-managed grasslands provide habitat for native wildlife; the presence of these often-overlooked species are a great indicator of a well-managed (and likely profitable) grassland system.

Small group of cattle near a water tank in a rangeland area.

Water Quality

While producers have long acknowledged that access to water makes the difference between a profitable or unsuccessful operation, they are beginning to understand that water quality may be as important as water quantity.

Small group of black angus cattle grazing in a rolling, well-managed rangeland.

Estimating Livestock Consumption

When planning a grazing strategy, it is important to carefully assess goals and objectives and then match those goals and objectives with the appropriate livestock. It is critical that the manager understand that not all livestock are created equal.