Testing the use of patch-burn grazing to provide habitat for species of greatest conservation need


This project built on an experiment that began in 2006 that was designed to compare plant, insect, and bird responses to three types of grassland management in Grand River Grasslands of southern Iowa: 1) patch-burn graze, 2) graze-and-burn, and 3) burn-only. It focused on examining butterfly responses to each of the three treatments during the second three-year burn cycle. All treatment variables remained the same as in the first three-year burn cycle with the exception of stocking rate, which was reduced in 2010 compared to previous years. Twelve pastures, four of each treatment type, served as study sites in our efforts to assess the effectiveness of patch-burn grazing in improving habitat for grasslandSpecies of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN). Pastures ranged in size from 38 to 84 acres and were located at the IA DNR’s Ringgold and Kellerton Wildlife Management Areas, on properties owned by The Nature Conservancy, on private properties in Ringgold County, Iowa, and at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Pawnee Prairie Preserve in Harrison County, Missouri. The three treatments were defined as follows: 1) patch-burn graze: burning of spatially distinct patches within the pasture and free access by cattle, 2) graze-and-burn: free access by cattle and burning of the entire pasture, and 3) burn-only: burning of the entire pasture but no grazing (typical management for protected lands in the region). Each of the three treatments was burned on a three year fire-return-interval. Patch-burn graze pastures andgraze-and-burn pastures were stocked annually from May 1 until October 1 at an average rate of 0.7 animal-unit months per acre beginning in 2010. Burn-only pastures were not fenced. No fertilizers or herbicides were applied in the pastures during the study.

This project was completed by Diane M. Debinski, David M. Engle from Oklahoma State University, Ryan N. Harr, and Raymond Moranz from Iowa State University. TO read more, click here.

10/01/2010 to 09/30/2012