Article Summary: As farmers, it's essential to understand the difference between range or rangeland management and pasture management. But for some, and those new to farming, it can be confusing. Both practices are essential in managing grazing lands but differ in several ways. In this blog post, which is part 1 of a series on the topic, we'll explore the differences between range or rangeland management and pasture management and how technology continues to evolve and assist the farming industry with these practices.
As farmers, it's essential to understand the difference between range or rangeland management and pasture management. But for some, and those new to farming, it can be confusing. Both practices are essential in managing grazing lands but differ in several ways. In this blog post, which is part 1 of a series on the topic, we'll explore the differences between range or rangeland management and pasture management and how technology continues to evolve and assist the farming industry with these practices.
In the following part of this series, we’ll explain the importance of managing range lands and pastures and how a proactive, holistic approach is the key to your farming success.
But first things first, let’s start with the over-arching definition of both…
Range or Rangeland Management
Range or rangeland management is the practice of managing natural ecosystems, such as grasslands, scrublands, and forests, where livestock are allowed to graze. These ecosystems are typically vast and cover millions of hectares. In Australia and New Zealand, rangeland covers approximately 81% and 62% of the total land area, respectively.
Range management aims to maintain the natural balance between grazing animals and the ecosystem. It involves implementing grazing strategies that ensure the sustainability of the natural resources in these ecosystems while maintaining or improving their ecological health.
One of the key practices in range management is rotational grazing, where animals get moved from one area to another to prevent overgrazing and give the vegetation time to recover. By doing this, you'll improve soil health, increase biodiversity, and reduce the risk of erosion.
Another important aspect of range management is monitoring and assessing the condition of the rangeland ecosystem. This involves conducting regular surveys to determine the health of the vegetation, the soil, and the water resources. By identifying any potential issues early on, range managers can implement corrective measures to prevent damage to the ecosystem.
Pasture management involves managing small areas of land, typically planted with a specific type of grass or forage, that are used only for grazing livestock. Pastures are usually smaller and more intensively managed than rangeland.
The primary goal of pasture management is to maximise the productivity of the land for livestock production, which involves carefully managing grazing, fertilisation, and irrigation to ensure that the grass or forage is healthy and nutritious for the animals. Pasture managers may use techniques such as rotational grazing, mowing, and fertilisation to maintain the health and productivity of the pasture.
So, how do they compare? Let’s dig a little deeper…
Differences between Range and Pasture Management
The key differences between range and pasture management lie in the area's size being managed, the type of vegetation being grazed, and the goals of the management practices. Here is a really simple guide to differentiate the two:
Size: Range management typically involves vast areas of natural ecosystems, while pasture management involves smaller, intensively managed areas.
Vegetation: Range management involves managing natural ecosystems with a variety of vegetation types, while pasture management involves managing a specific type of grass or forage.
Goals: Range management aims to maintain the natural balance between grazing animals and the ecosystem, while pasture management aims to maximise the productivity of the land for livestock production.
How technology helps farmers in their range management and pasture management efforts
It's no secret that advancements in technology have provided you with a plethora of tools and techniques to assist you in managing your grazing practices more effectively. And the beauty of it is a lot of it can be done remotely. For those new to the game, technologies available to farmers include:
GPS tracking and mapping systems
GPS tracking and mapping systems can monitor the movement of livestock and map out grazing areas. This information can regulate the intensity, frequency, and timing of grazing to optimise the health and productivity of the land.
Electronic identification (EID) systems
EID systems can be used to track individual animals and monitor their grazing habits. This information can tailor grazing management practices to each animal's specific needs and optimise the health and productivity of the herd.
Remote sensing technology
This sensor technology can monitor vegetation cover, biomass, and productivity in grazing areas. Its data can then develop more accurate grazing management plans, identifying areas requiring additional management practices, like rest periods or reseeding.
Precision irrigation systems
Precision irrigation systems can regulate the amount and timing of water applied to grazing areas. This can help to optimise the health and productivity of the vegetation and to reduce the risk of overgrazing or erosion. If you live in a drought zone, fair chance you'd be using one.
Automated feeding systems
Automated feeding systems, like feeder bowls, hopper systems and step feeders, to name a few, can provide a controlled and consistent feed supply to grazing animals. This can help ensure your animals receive the nutrients they need to maintain their health and productivity and reduce the risk of overgrazing or nutrient depletion.
Besides these technologies, various software applications and tools are available to help help you manage grazing practices more effectively. For example, there are grazing management software programs that can help you plan and implement grazing management practices, monitor the health and productivity of your herds, and optimise the use of grazing resources. Take Pasture.io’s revolutionary pasture management app that provides data and recommendations in real time. For information, get in touch here.
Overall, the use of technology can enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of grazing management practices and can help you achieve your goals of maintaining healthy, productive land and animals. However, it is important to remember that technology does not replace good management practices. You'd know that your vast farming knowledge and experience are king and the key to making informed decisions about grazing.
Stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll discuss success factors for effective pasture and range management and how the size of your farm may affect your choice.
Until we meet again, Happy Ranging!
- The Dedicated Team of Pasture.io, 2023-04-20