An improved pair of shears for clipping studies on quadrats

TitleAn improved pair of shears for clipping studies on quadrats
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1928
AuthorsCampbell R.S., Canfield R.H.
Date Published1928
Keywordsblack grama, clipping studies, improved, quadrats, shears, tobosa grass
AbstractIn 1925, two clipping studies were established on the Jornada Range Reserve; one of tobosa grass (Hilaria mutica (Buckl.) Benth.) and one of black grama grass (Bouteloua eriopoda Torr.). The tobosa clipping study was composed of nine 1-meter quadrats, eight of which were used for clipping and the ninth used as a density control. The eight clipped quadrats were organized into four groups of two, each pair having one plot clipped at 2 inches and one clipped at 4 inches above ground. To obtain data representing varying intensities of grazing, each pair was clipped at a different time from the other three, the intervals being 1 week, 2 weeks, 4 weeks and at the end of the growing season. The quadrats cut at intervals of 1 and 2 weeks produced only short flower stalks between clippings. After the forage was air dried, it was weighed and the production of each quadrat was compared with the others on the basis of grams of dry forage per square decimeter of tuft area. The black grama clipping study was very similar to the tobosa study, except that the heights of clipping were 1 and 2 inches, while the clipping intervals were 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks and at the end of the growing season. In starting the studies, the question arose of a proper and convenient method of clipping and saving the desired vegetation. At first, a pair of small sheep shears were used for cutting the grasses and later, a pair of paper shears were used, the clipped flower stalks being lifted with the free hand and deposited in a paper bag. This method required constant measurement to insure the proper height of grass left on the ground. Moreover, a considerable number of short flower stalks and leaves were lost by being flipped away when cut or lost through the operator’s inability to hold with one hand all of the clipped vegetation. During the 1927 field season, an improved pair of shears was developed. This instrument, made from an ordinary pair of 10-inch paper shears, removes two of the outstanding faults found in the old method. The loss of leaves and short flower stalk tips is avoided by the presence of 1-inch high copper strips soldered onto the outer edges of the blades. Another distinct advantage of this tool is the adjustable gauge set on the side of one blade that eliminates the necessity of continually measuring the grass. Additionally, the gauge is attached ¾ inch from the blade point. It appears that flower stalks in the midst of large tufts can be cut more easily if the gauge is set near the fulcrum of the shears. The gauge, which is graduated in half-inch intervals, is set at the desired height and the clipping is begun. The gauge is also equipped with a foot that prevents the shears from sinking into the ground and may be slipped from its slot and clamped parallel to the blades for convenient carrying. This instrument has reduced by a third the time it takes for clipping grasses on the Jornada and produces more accurate results.