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The Tool Box

The Tool Box

by Toni M. Flax, Rangeland Management Specialist
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Stockton, Kansas

Tool boxes, we all have them right? They hold wrenches, screw drivers, and hammers, some woodworking tools, others might have fishing tackle, but no matter what is in them, we know where to go to get the tools we need for the job at hand. Some tools are multi-purpose and others are specialty tools, while some are not physical tools at all. Rangeland management has its own set of tools, are you aware of what they are or could be?

When talking about managing rangeland one of the most recognizable tools is the idea of rotational grazing. This is moving livestock through more than one pasture during the growing season, allowing grass to rest so that it does not get overgrazed. We have fence, patch burning, and herding all as tools to accomplish this idea. Those, along with moving salt and mineral and proper placement of water, can help with the issues of grazing distribution.

Brush invasion is another issue plaguing most producers today. There are chemical applications and mechanical clearing that everyone thinks about; however, there is also prescribed burning and biological controls that many people over look. Sometimes just changing the livestock or mixing different species of livestock can make a difference.

One important set of tools that are often over looked are the monitoring tools. Those can be as simple as grazing cages and photo points, to more complex. An example would be having an inventory done approximately every five years to see if there are changes happening.

There are also programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives program (EQIP), Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), State Water Resources program, and many others that are available to help with these tools.

These are just a few of many tools out there for producers, and as simple as they seem, these are very important tools you should make sure are in the tool box and are fully understood. You might not always need all of them but sometimes having that one special tool for just the right job is very important and time saving. Not to mention the return you will see with improving the rangeland resource.

For more information about these tools, please contact your local Natural Resource Conservation (NRCS) office or conservation district office located at your local county USDA Service Center. To learn more about NRCS, visit the Kansas NRCS Web site at www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov.

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