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Grazing Land Resource Management Systems

Below is an example of a Vermont grass-based dairy that developed and implemented a CNMP that included Prescribed Grazing along with several structural barnyard conservation practices along with Fencing to control livestock access to the adjacent stream, a Trail and Walkway, Stream Crossing and a iRparian Forest Buffer along the stream itself.

Before CNMPAfter CNMP








The following conservation practices are commonly used on livestock grazing land to reduce erosion, improve soil and plant health and water quality, and to minimize any adverse off-site impacts.


Access control is the temporary or permanent exclusion of animals, people, vehicles, and/or equipment from an area. The purpose is to protect, maintain, or improve the quantity and quality of the natural resources in an area.  The purpose also includes aesthetic resources as well as human health and safety.  The practice is used in a conservation plan in areas where vegetation establishment or maintenance is a concern.  The barriers constructed for Access Control include fences, gates, posting of signs or other barriers.


Animal trails and walkways provide a travel lane through difficult or ecologically sensitive terrain.  This practice is installed on grazing lands as part of a conservation plan to accomplish one or more of the following: improve access to forage, water and /or shelter, improve grazing efficiency and distribution, or to divert travel away from ecologically sensitive and/or erosive sites.


A fence is a constructed barrier to livestock, wildlife, or people. This practice may be applied to any area where livestock and /or wildlife control is needed, or where access to people is to be regulated.  A wide variety of types of fencing have been developed; however, fencing material and construction quality is always designed and installed to assure the fence will meet the intended purpose and longevity requirements of the project.


This practice typically involves protecting heavily used areas by establishing vegetative cover, by surfacing with suitable materials, or by installing needed structures. This practice is used on any land area frequently and intensively used by livestock.  When this practice is used in a grazing system, it is typically applied to protect the area surrounding a watering facility, and located in an appropriate location away from streams or other waters to enhance water quality.


This conservation practice involves the establishment of native or introduced forage species.  This practice may be applied on cropland, hayland, pastureland, or other agriculture lands where forage production is planned to provide forage for livestock and/or wildlife, improve or maintain livestock nutrition and/or health, provide additional forage to fill gaps in a year-long forage management program, provide emergency forage, reduce soil erosion, provide wildlife food and cover, and improve water quality.


The Livestock Pipeline practice is used when a pipeline is needed to convey water for livestock.  The purpose of this practice is to convey water from the source of supply to the point of use.  The objective is usually to facilitate improved management of grazed areas, provide fresh water for livestock while keeping farm animals out of streams or other water bodies. A single water source can provide livestock water to several locations and be very effective in improving management of a grazing unit.


Prescribed grazing is the controlled harvest of vegetation with grazing animals, managed with the intent to achieve a specific objective.  Duration and intensity of grazing is based on desired plant health and expected productivity of the forage species to meet management objectives.  Enough vegetation is left to prevent accelerated soil erosion. 


Spring Development involves improving springs and seeps by excavating, cleaning, capping, or providing collection and storage facilities.  The purpose of the practice is to improve distribution of water for livestock.  Spring development  is often used to provide alternative water sources for grazing livestock, thereby protecting sensitive environmental areas where the livestock would otherwise obtain drinking water. 


A stream crossing is a stabilized area or structure constructed across a stream to provide a travel way for people, livestock, equipment, or vehicles.  As used within a grazing system, this practice is used where livestock need access to grazing areas on the far side of streams.  The practice is applied to improve water quality by reducing sediment, nutrient, organic, and inorganic loading of the stream and to reduce streambank and streambed erosion.


Installation of wells or ponds for livestock water supply purposes are only used when they are the most cost-effective alternative.


Troughs or tanks to provide watering facilities for livestock at selected locations that will protect vegetative cover through proper distribution of grazing or through better grassland management for erosion control.  Another purpose on some sites is to reduce or eliminate the need for livestock to be in streams, which reduces water quality problems associated with livestock waste. 

 For additional information related to these conservation practices, visit the Vermont NRCS Conservation Practice Information web page.


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