SDSU Study Considers Pluses, Adoption Rates of Management Intensive Grazing

Aug 3, 2017

South Dakota State University Extension will use federal funding from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture for a study on management intensive grazing. Past research has shown that it has many positives, but only about 30 percent of farmers are using this strategy. South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s Jeremy Ludemann reports.

Tong Wang teaches economics at State and is an advanced production specialist with SDSU Extension. She says many producers in the region utilize continuous grazing, where cattle are allowed to graze on all of the pasture land.

Another form is called extensive rotational grazing, where the land is usually divided into four parts. Wang says management intensive grazing takes that a step further. “We have more paddocks, usually 20 paddocks, and the grazing period is very short. So, it varies from 1-7 days…after grazing the paddock is left to a long recovery period of maybe 60-90 days, depending on the weather conditions, ” Wang says.

She says management intensive grazing has been shown to reduce forage costs and help grasslands recover in drought conditions. But, she says the low adoption rate points to misconceptions about the practice.

Wang says the study wants to address those and also examine the economic changes when producers go from continuous to management intensive grazing. “How have your costs been changing…what’s the initial cost, what’s the afterwards, every day costs after you adopt this practice…and do you observe any stocking rate increase or any of the soil benefits or the grass productivity or the {sic} reduction of forage purchase, Wang says.”

She says one drawback is a high initial cost of starting management intensive grazing. She hopes the study can help governments consider giving incentives to producers who want to use this method. The study will take place over a three-year period and include thousands of ranchers from North Dakota, South Dakota, and Texas.