South Dakota Grassland Coalition Blog
“Grasslands are not the poor land, it’s not the wasteland, this is an ecosystem that is by
far the most important ecosystem we have in North America and
yet it is disappearing at extraordinary rates.”
In our final video release of 2018, Tracy Rosenberg explains the importance of grassland ecosystems and the steps she is taking to preserve and enhance the Abbey Grasslands of the Prairie Coteau. Tracy embodies the spirit of conservation and encourages all of us to recognize the value of grasslands.
The SD Grassland Coalition partnered with the organizations listed below to enhance the grassland planner with a release of a short video story each month during 2018 promoting healthy soils, grasslands, and ecosystems. Please enjoy the Our Amazing Grasslands feature story for December 2018 featuring Tracy Rosenberg.
2018 Grassland Stewardship Communications Project Partners: The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever, American Bird Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Audubon Dakota, Ducks Unlimited, Partners for Fish Health, SD Game Fish & Parks, South Dakota Soil Health Coalition, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and SD Grassland Coalition.
SHARING RANGELAND KNOWLEDGE
By Mary A. Scott
The 2018 Rosebud Area Youth and Adult Range Workshops were held on Tuesday, July 31st in a pasture near Rosebud, SD. Attendees in the Adult Workshop started out the morning with the Tabletop Rainfall Simulator showing runoff and infiltration from different samples of local native range plant communities. The continuous season long grazed sample had more runoff and less infiltration than the sample with a rest rotation management. The participants were able to see firsthand the importance of the 5 key soil health principals that result in higher water infiltration rates which means more water stored in the soil, less runoff, and more biomass above ground. They walked through the pasture to learn more about plant identification along with medicinal and cultural uses. Discussion included how to calculate AUM’s (Animal Unit Month) and stocking rates, measure forage production and monitor pasture usage during the grazing season to avoid overuse of the rangelands. The grazing stick was demonstrated as a tool to help determine forage production and carrying capacity. Instructors also stressed the need for developing a drought plan so one is ready when the actual drought occurs. The participants in attendance were from Todd and Mellette Counties, including local owners and operators of land along with school teachers and Rosebud Sioux Tribe and BIA staff.
Participating youth from the Mission Boys & Girls Club and local 4-H Clubs started off the afternoon learning the differences between a forb, grass and shrub as well as the medicinal and cultural uses for each of the given species. Chokecherries, Indian Breadroot or “timpsila” and jerky made from venison and chokecherries were available for the youth to try; however, the samples of dandelion, chokecherry and rose hip jellies on traditional frybread was the most popular. It was a very educational opportunity for these youth to learn more about the importance of the plants to the Lakota people and culture. The workshop provided an excellent learning environment for children to physically be on the land learning about the diversity of plants that make up the prairie.
Many of the attendees were appreciative of the opportunity to learn more about the rangeland, including soil health and plants. “I’m so glad I came as it was very interesting, and I learned so much!”, commented Bonnie Krogman.
These workshops were coordinated through a partnership of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and SDSU Extension. NRCS staff included Mary Scott, Tribal Liaison and Cody Kartak, Soil Conservationist along with SDSU Extension staff Ron Frederick, 4-H Youth Program Advisor; Sean Kelly, Range Management Field Specialist; Jimmy Doyle, Natural Resources Extension Field Specialist; Rachel Lindvall, Community Development Field Specialist; and volunteer, Deanna Eagle Feather. A special thanks to the Rosebud Tribal Ranch for use of the land, Midwest Fertilizer and Seed of Kilgore, NE for sponsoring the lunch and the South Dakota Grassland Coalition for providing workshop materials.
Kinship with the land is an important aspect of Lakota Culture, the organizers of the workshop hope to continue this annual educational opportunity for many years to come.
See attached pictures (Courtesy Photos):
Photo 1 – 2018 Range Workshop crew that coordinated and shared their knowledge (l-r): Rachel Lindvall, Deanna Eagle Feather, Cody Kartak, Sean Kelly, Jimmy Doyle, Mark Lindvall, Mary Scott and Ron Fredericks.
Photo 2 – Sean Kelly, SDSU Extension Service, giving plant identification illustration to the youth.
Photo 3 – Youth participants testing the dandelion, chokecherry and rose hip jellies on traditional frybread was very popular.
Alexander "Sandy" Smart, Ph.D.
Rangeland Management Extension Specialist / Professor
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Coordinator for South Dakota
Undergraduate Range Science Program Leader
Department of Natural Resource Management
South Dakota State University
1097 North Campus Drive
Brookings, SD 57007
office phone 605-688-4017
Story by Cory Neuharth, Range Tech (Weeds). Photos by Cory Neuharth and Jen Schneider, Range Tech (Weeds).
This was a first for a project of this kind within the South Dakota Field Office. The weeds program coordinator had been thinking about this type of treatment option on noxious weeds for a few years, and just within the last year decided to give it a try. Planning started back in October 2017 with calls and meetings to a local Sheep Field Specialist who works for SDSU Extension Center out of Rapid City, South Dakota and to the South Dakota Game Fish & Parks (SDGF&P) regional wildlife manager. Due to the proximity of an active Big Horn sheep herd, the SDGF&P needed to be consulted.
General overview of plot area.
Herdsman setting up paddocks and holding pen. Once the SDGF&P heard our proposal, they were supportive of the objectives we were trying to accomplish. We also consulted with a local operator who agreed to be the "herdsman" for the project. It was at this point that planning could start to move forward. The SDSU sheep field specialist was able to secure a grant for $3,000 to help with supply costs of the project, and the BLM would be assisting in covering costs of the labor. Dalmation Toadflax was the identified noxious weed to be targeted by sheep, as it is listed as a locally noxious weed within Meade County, South Dakota. Prior to turnout of the 25 head of sheep, the BLM weeds program conducted some monitoring to
determine weed density within a given 96-meter plot area. It was averaged to be about 13 plants per square meter within the given plot.
SDSU Sheep field specialist observing sheep grazing habits.
Since this was the first time the South Dakota Field Office had initiated a targeted grazing project for noxious weeds, it was decided to keep the project area small. There were two locations initially planned for grazing. One area was a smaller three acre patch, while the other area was a larger 70 acre area. The project area is located within the Fort Meade Recreation Area, which is directly adjacent to the city of Sturgis, South Dakota. The Fort Meade Recreation Area is highly utilized for cattle grazing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, camping and multiple special recreation events.
Sheep targeting grazing the Dalmation Toadflax.
The main reason for utilizing the targeted grazing was to show the public that the BLM is trying to utilize multiple treatment options in our fight against the control of noxious weeds. Treatment options already utilized within the area are chemical and biological control methods. The period of performance was to run for 60 days starting May 1. This timeframe was cut a little short due to some weather and logistical issues with the second proposed plot. All of the focus was concentrated on the smaller three acre plot. The smaller three acre plot was broken into seven smaller paddocks in which the sheep grazed intensely from one to five days. There was also a small holding pen attached to a stock trailer where the sheep were put in every night to protect them from predators.
Effects of 3 days grazing Plot 1.
The herdsman was responsible for daily safety and care of the sheep, along with moving all the electric fencing that was used for the paddocks. He also provided daily logs of animal behavior and eating habits. The BLM was able to use this project as a "site tour" during the annual Range Camp, which is attended by many other local Ag and Ranch Industries, students, county and state agencies, and local ranchers. It was very well received, with many good observations and questions from the participants and the general public.
Approximately 30 days after on Plot 1 (No Chemical Treatment).
Upon conclusion of our project, we noted that approximately 90% of the live Dalmation Toadflax had been clipped from the top or the entire plant eaten to the ground. It took approximately four to five days until the sheep were targeting the Dalmation Toadflax over the other herbaceous plant material. We also noted that, in some weeks time, some of those same clipped plants started to re-sprout new stems. While we had taken out current seed production, we knew these plants would still be viable to produce seed at some point. Since that time some of these plots have been treated with different herbicide treatments and some left "as is" to monitor the effects. Overall, this small project was a success for everyone involved. There has been some discussion in bringing the sheep back to graze the non-chemically treated area for a few short days.
A joint effort from USDA-ARS, Colorado State University, the National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Arizona, and the Northern Plains Climate Hub have come up with a forage prediction tool called ‘Grass-Cast’. It takes historic forage production data sets and climate predictions from NOAA to make forage forecasts. This is a useful drought planning tool. Right now the map shows much of western South Dakota is now in a better position than last year. However the east central and northern central part of South Dakota is going to suffer.
Feel free to explore this useful website http://grasscast.agsci.colostate.edu/.