Sustained forests; sustained profits

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The Range and Pasture Group

copied from USFS newsletter

This unit of Lasting Forests recognizes that all land is not best-suited for growing trees. There are vast areas of pasture lands as well as small openings within forests. The unit create a system that produces a written report (suitable for electronic transmission) for a landowner providing an analysis and description of a grassland and a user-readable, linear-programming and expert system report that prescribes how to manage early-succession ecosystems in the mid-Atlantic states to achieve owner's objectives.

Overview:

Widespread needs exist for managing pasture, prairie, rangeland, and wild grasslands or early succession plant communities (hereinafter "grasslands"). This project will list and describe such needs but move to describe how they can be analyzed, then develop a prescriptive system -- one that writes out a readable set of practical methods -- amounts, and sequences -- that, if implemented, will achieve landowner objectives. Simple rules like "raising one calf to a marketable weight requires 1 or 2 acres of productive pasture and supplemental feeding" are inadequate for sustained profits. Previous work indicates that for economical and efficient pasture management there must be sufficient acreages and herd-size must be large. The situation has parallels within forest ownership. Only when economies of scale are achieved can profits be made. There is no reason why the ownership cannot be the production unit, not simply forests ... and land on the other side of the fence. Such work does not exclude work with pet animals and individual animal-related hobbies. Our past work suggests the utility of pastures for productive wild turkey populations. The forest/turkey/pasture system is evident.

SCS photo 1980; poor mgmt to right of fence

The staff operates a system that, among other things, produces a report as does The Trevey. The report is created from two files, one a WORD or text file, the other a data file. This site information file is merged into the text file. The site information file (1) may cause select parts of the report to be suppressed, or (2) words to be inserted (e.g., county name, date, "high"-"low" etc.); graphs to be drawn; or numbers to be inserted. The graphs are drawn, for example, based on summary data from a GIS window from a database that includes the property. Models in ancillary programs (e.g, regressions) compute their dependent variable values based on field site inputs, then load them into the site information file.

The major optimization programs are linear programming, probably COPLAN with which we have worked, or LINDO. An alternative described in Giles' 1978 Wildlife Management will be studied for an alternative. EXSYS, an expert system shell will be studied for potential uses.

High Mountain meadows (Mule Mt, Willamette National Forest, Oregon, 1952) are snow covered during most of the year and have little forage quality.
The new power that we bring, well developed in separate applications, are GPS-specific location of grassland units; 20 GIS factors (elevation, slope, aspect, slope position, distance from roads, distance from water, geology, temperature, precipitation, evapotranspiration, etc.)

Work is grounded in extensive research and synthesis for the region.

We propose to provide the landowner with options for objectives but past experience (TVA) suggests this is difficult, so we shall present three likely objective formulations so that differences in prescriptions can be observed and evaluated.

A Goatherd project will be studied. A cost-effective, multiple-ownership dairy goat herd may be the center of a cheese and other product enterprise. Membership will promote quality goats, humane treatment, nutrition, rational financial analyses, use of computer and GIS, herd management, and quality herd records. A newsletter and web site will be maintained. This is not a "brush goat" operation but one that emphasized pasture management and energy budgeting. It uses the fence component of the Products Group and shows the use of GIS in selecting grazing areas and optimum pasture management. A veterinarian or PhD candidate in animal science may be recruited to assist in the start-up and design of the complex, for-profit system. Non-violent wards of the courts, where feasible, may find time usefully spent in this enterprise. Facilities of the unified lab will be used for analyses of milk, blood, urine, etc. The goats may be a surrogate for some white-tailed deer studies.

The project develops a demonstration of a prescriptive system (an element of Leopold's concept of land health). It opens the door to a county-or region-specific service unit, one that will produce such reports, or a larger stable service center that may provide (electronically via the web) these reports to many areas (and continual improvements).

photo from SCS  pub1980

The above is only possible or feasible due to our previous work. After the prescriptions are produced, much in the pattern developed for The Trevey, then assistance will be provided for obtaining fencing, water management, access, lime, fertilizer, and labor to carry out the work. Contract work will be arranged with superior groups of workers or new services developed. Research opportunities (with overhead) will be explored.

See weed management.

The needs are great; there are vast acreages of poor or eroding pastures; the potential for a major synthetic breakthrough exists.

Development costs..$150,000

Expected profits....$100,000

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Last revision January 17, 2000.