Last Updated on July 19, 2019 by Naeem Javid Muhammad Hassani
“It is science and arts of optimizing the returns from rangelands in those combinations as desired by and suited to society through the manipulation of range ecosystem.”
GOALS OF RANGE MANAGEMENT:
- Protection, conservation, improvement and continued welfare of resources of land, water, plants, and animals.
- Increased well being of the rangeland people and society as a whole.
Range management is associated with several sciences as shown:
- We are concerned with several sciences at a time. In the Cholistan, deer are found but they or their children would perish in cold winter if some cover for ‘birth’ is not provided. Similarly, wale’s food etc is needed; net carrying capacity is calculated as well.
- In range mgt, there are site limitations, and we can compare the good soil with the steep topographic site.
- Here the ecology is studied because there are preferences of the kind of animals to the land species.
PRINCIPLES OF RANGE MANAGEMENT:
There are four major principles of range management:
- Correct kind of Animals (livestock)
- The correct number of Animals
- Correct season of range use, or grazing
- Proper (uniform) distribution of livestock on range areas
Correct kind of Animals (livestock):
There are following determinant factors for the correct kind of animals:
- Water requirement
- Palatability of forage species
Existing vegetation play a major role in the determination of animal spp to be grazed eg camel prefer trees and shrubs while cattle prefer tall grasses. Sheep first prefer short grasses and in case of non-availability of later they eat on shrubs and even if still, shrubs are not available, they prefer to browse.
Goats and sheep require less water than cattle and the camels can sustain without water up to several days. In case of scarcity of water, the area may be grazed by camels. So water obviously determines the kind of animals
The cattle prefer plain and moderate terrains. If it is a steep topographic area, the sheep and goat may tread easily and if desert, it is best for camels.
Palatability of forage species:
It is again related with preference as example Olea ferrugenia and Acacia modesta, etc are palatable for animals; Cenchrus ciliarius and Chrysopogon aucheri are preferred by cattle. Similarly, Bothriocloa pertusa and Aristida depressa may be preferred by other animals.
` Besides this palatability of spp leads to the formation of different covers and anop9ies of vegetation eg If camels are allowed in an area to graze the trees and shrubs, the density of trees and shrubs will be reduced and the lower vegetation ie grasses, etc will rise up. If the situation in reverse the lower cover will be destroyed due to the unavailability of light. Still, if the mixed animals graze, the unwanted spp as Dodonaea viscosa (not grazed) etc will show vigorous growth.
So need is to have optimum benefits from land the exact spp of animal (an exact number as well) hence animals are adopted differently to different range areas because of their body weight, water requirements, forage preferences, etc. however, the characteristics of range area considered are:
- Species composition or relative proportion of grasses, forbs, herbs, trees, and shrubs.
- Palatability of each forage spp to different kind of animals
- Nutritive value of range plants to diff kind of animals
- Range suitability of different kinds of animals.
- Distribution of forage on range area.
Rangelands have mixed vegetation, therefore, a mixed number of animals should be grazed. These calculations are made from “Range Suitability Classification”. Moreover, the optimum utilization of rangeland is expressed and visible in terms of weight, health, and income from these animals.
The correct number of Animals:
This is essential for the following reasons:
- Vegetation should be in good condition.
- A gain in the weight of animals: (Nobody will invest if not sure of benefit, and success cannot be expected if the minimum needs of animals are not taken into reckoning).
- Resource: Continued removal of photosynthesis portions of vegetation is the consequence of over-grazing. If the individual plant spp is grazed continuously, it will go on utilizing its reserved food material, the food reserve will decrease and re-growth is hampered. The vigor is lost. Need is to maintain and least the stability and productivity of range area.
On the other hand, continuous trampling of soil reduces aeration as well as infiltration. Thus the root penetration will be less more will be runoff accompanied by eroded material (top fertile layer of soil.)
So, how to calculate the correct number for precise utilization of area? This is done by computing carrying capacity, forage production data and most essentially the proper use of each kind of animal.
A plant can tolerate about 60% grazing of its foliage; however, the exact data is not known. But if remove 50% and retain 50%, it will improve the health 50%.
Consequently, correct numbers of animals ensure sustained production of animal products (skins, hides, wools, etc) and maintain range area in good condition. This is important for the well being of owner, livestock, and rangeland as a whole.
Following are determined periodically to adjust the number of animals according to available forage.
- Initial Stocking Rate: These are calculated on the basis of carrying capacity. Carrying capacity is calculated by collecting the forage production data (cut, harvest, and clip) using a quadrat and clipping the vegetation with a quadrat. (A 50% proper use factor is applied to calculate the carrying capacity).
- Range Condition: Range Condition and trend are determined or estimated periodically to correct the stocking rates.
- Range Utilization: Range utilization at different intervals of time is calculated to avoid over-grazing. Overgrazing will result in range deterioration and will change the spp composition.
Correct season of range use, or grazing:
After grazing the plants utilize the stored food material (in roots). If vegetation is clipped and grazed, the photosynthetic machinery will reduce and the material is exhausted. Then the elongation of roots is retarded as well. The grasses are more nutritious at younger ages. The old days and the grazing at the younger stage is more harmful. Thus correct season is related with the morphology and physiology of the plant. It takes about 15- days for a plant to recover the loss of grazing.
Grazing at the flowering stage is also harmful because most of the carbohydrates are utilized for flowering and in case of non-availability of these hydrocarbons the seed production is much lesser (due to the drought).
In early growing season (eg February), the soil is wet, therefore more compaction of soil. Since dry periods start after flowering of plants due to less seed, fewer seedlings are established.
Grazing after seed maturity is not harmful to the plants; it rather helps in seed sowing by trampling effects of animals. However, the livestock will feed on low nutritious food. Grazing, when plants have made up about 6-8 leaves (it varies from spp to spp) in providing periodic rest to the plants from grazing or when plants have attained a height of 15 cm, is normally considered good.
Proper (uniform) distribution of livestock on range areas:
It is the tendency of the people. If they are given the choice, they graze their animals near the water area and don’t move to the steep area. It shows the uneven utilization of the range resource.
Animals tend to concentrate on flat areas or near watering points. These areas will be overgrazed. Moderately steep areas will be under grazed because animals will avoid going to that area. Next year less re-growth occur from the old plants.
To obtain the uniform utilization of all the range plants in range areas, following means and ways are used:
Range improvement practices:
- Development and distribution of watering facilities on the range areas.
- Salting – providing plenty of salt at proper places uniformly on the range areas.
- The herding of live-stock to areas not preferred by animals, by a herdsman.
- Fencing – fencing the large area into a small area and also the seeded areas (because we need to save it in early one month.)
- Constricting paths and trails to connecting different range areas for livestock movement.
- Range burning – dense patches of shrubs by vegetation are burned to facilitate livestock movement.
- Range reseeding
- Range fertilization
- Using specified grazing systems.
- It is the adaptability of the range area of grazing by livestock or wildlife. Market demand for certain livestock products will be determined by the kind of livestock to be reared or raised.
- Factors to be considered for it:
- Kind of vegetation
- Availability of drinking water
- Factors to be considered for it:
For correction and improvements please use the comments section below.
NJMH is working as Deputy Conservator of Forests in Balochistan Forest & Wildlife Department (BFWD). He is the CEO of Tech Urdu (techurdu.net) Forestrypedia (forestrypedia.com), Majestic Pakistan (majesticpakistan.pk), All Pak Notifications (allpaknotifications.com), Essayspedia, etc & their YouTube Channels). He is an Environmentalist, Blogger, YouTuber, Developer & Vlogger.