Range and Pasture
Grazing lands are treasured features of Pennsylvania and national landscapes. Animals that graze and browse are used to manage grasses, forbs, residues, and shrubs on pastures and other grasslands, crop fields, and forests. Well-managed grazing lands are very valuable assets, not only to their private landowners, but also to the entire Commonwealth and Nation. Societal benefits include an available supply of food, feed, fiber, and renewable energy; healthy soil, clean air and water, healthy fish and wildlife populations and habitat; and diverse productive grasslands, forests, wetlands, and riparian areas. Publicly owned grazing lands (such as federal, state, and local government lands) make similar contributions to society.
Examples of these benefits include:
- Improved soil nutrient content and soil health through the addition of animal manure and other by-product nutrient soils.
- Reduced soil erosion from rainfall and water runoff by providing a layer of grass and roots to hold the soil in place. Reductions in soil erosion lead to healthier streams, wetlands, and riparian areas that provide wildlife habitat.
- Reduced potential for flooding because grass roots create more permeable soils that can absorb excess water.
- Prevention of the spread of invasive plants by using livestock grazing as a control.
- Reduced energy use by relying on sunlight to grow, and livestock to harvest, extensive grass and other available vegetation sources rather than buying or growing feed.
- Increased diversity of plant and animal species by creating habitat and decreasing invasive pressure on indigenous plants.
- Providing food and recreation for local people interested in buying meat, hiking, or viewing wildlife.
There is always the potential for conflict between competing land users. Demands for valuable grazing land products and benefits by landowners and society are increasing. Private landowners require solid economic businesses. However, these landowners must continue to recognize conservation problems and opportunities. Luckily, sound, voluntary technical assistance exists to help landowners improve their systems to meet ecological and economic demands.
Prescribed burning can be beneficial in both forests and pastures to achieve landowner objectives and address resource concerns. Check out this Prescribed Burning Landowner Factsheet.
Check out the Pennsylvania Grazing Lands Coalition’s extensive library of fact sheets, manuals, and useful websites to learn more and for help transitioning to a grazing system.
The National Grazing Lands Coalition (GLC)
Formerly the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (or GLCI), the National Grazing Lands Coalition (GLC) was founded to provide high quality technical assistance on privately owned grazing lands on a voluntary basis and to increase the awareness of the importance of grazing land resources. Established in 1991, the National GLC is carried out through coalitions of individuals and organizations functioning at the local, state, regional and national levels. The coalitions include livestock producer organizations, scientific and professional grazing resource organizations, conservation and environmental groups, and state and federal natural resource and agriculture agencies. The National GLC was developed to coordinate efforts to identify priority issues, find solutions, and effect change on private grazing land. This initiative will complement and enhance existing conservation programs.
Information about the National GLC is available at http://www.grazinglands.org
Pennsylvania Grazing Land Conservation Initiative (PAGLCI)
The Pennsylvania Grazing Land Coalition (PAGLC) is a producer-led association that aims to address resource conservation and environmental concerns on private grazing/forage lands in Pennsylvania. These aims are achieved by: educating the public; promoting voluntary action and respect of private property rights; strengthening partnerships; encouraging diversification; increasing economic, environmental and social stability on private grazing lands; closing the gap between the availability of knowledge and the application of knowledge; and lastly, enhancing the private landowners ability to achieve grater profitability.
Information about PAGLC is available on the coalition web site: http://www.paglc.org. For grazing land management assistance, contact your local Conservation District, Resource Conservation & Development Council, Cooperative Extension, or NRCS office.
For More Technical Information Contact Your Local NRCS Grazing Specialist
State Grazing Specialist
NW Grazing Specialist
NRCS Clarion Technical Office
SW Grazing Specialist
NRCS Somerset Technical Office
James B. Harrold
SE Grazing And Feed Management Specialist
NRCS Lebanon Technical Office
NRCS Chambersburg Field Office