Livestock grazing of pastures is a growing phenomenon among beef and dairy producers of the upper Midwest. Management intensive rotational grazing (MIRG) is especially popular because of its low capital requirements, benefits to forage production, and perceived lifestyle benefits. However, the ecological benefits of MIRG thus far are mostly anecdotal. We are testing the effects of MIRG on ecosystem processes compared to alternative management including continuous extensive grazing, harvesting, and CRP. Specifically, we are examining the effects of these management regimes on cool-season pasture 1) microbial biomass, composition and functional diversity, 2) net ecosystem production—soil carbon accumulation/loss, and 3) forage quality and quantity.
With Dr. Geoff Brink, we are examining the effects of renovation and management on pasture productivity and quality under rotational grazing. This work is being conducted on farms across a range of latitudes in Wisconsin.