Pasture & Rangeland Management
PasturePasture is defined as an area enclosed for growing forage and allowing animals, such as cattle, sheep, or goats, to graze. Pastures can support a wide range of plant species, offering varying degrees of nutrition for the grazers, stability for the pasture in terms of soil health, and habitat for wildlife. Ranchers intensively maintain the health and productivity of their pastures through management practices including grazing, seeding, tillage, fertilization, mowing, weed control and irrigation. The RCD has assisted ranchers with pasture by offering technical advice and educational resources, developing alternative water sources and improving irrigation efficiency, managing and repairing areas of pasture lost to erosion, and improving fencing that protects waterways.
RangelandRoughly a third of Sonoma County is rangeland. The EPA defines rangelands as "those lands on which the native vegetation (climax or natural potential plant community) is predominantly grasses, grass-like plants, forbs, or shrubs suitable for grazing or browsing use. Rangelands include natural grassland, savannas, many wetlands, some deserts, tundra, and certain forb and shrub communities." Rangeland is less intensively managed than pastures, typically supports more native species, can be open (not enclosed by fencing) and can be grazed by wildlife or livestock. Rangeland management poses a great opportunity to manage and improve a wide host of natural resources including livestock, wildlife, soil, water, carbon and renewable energy.
Why are rangelands important? Rangelands make up: 47% of the Earth, 36% of the US, 53% of Western States, 48% of Idaho, and 80% of Nevada. Roughly a third of Sonoma County's land is defined as rangeland.
Map / Photo Credit: Generalized map of rangeland vegetation types of the United States. Based mostly on A. S. Kuchler 1964. Potential natural vegetation of the conterminous Unites States. American Geographical Soc. Publ. #36.More Resources for Understanding Working Lands Management:
- UCCE Understanding Working Rangelands – Cows Need Water, Too: Water Sources, Wetlands, and Riparian Areas - PDF
- UCCE Understanding Working Rangelands – Cattle, Sheep, Goats, and Horses: What’s the Difference for Working Rangelands? - PDF
- UCCE Livestock and Range Management Resources