Rangeland research in the Chihuahuan Desert

TitleRangeland research in the Chihuahuan Desert
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsEstell RE, Anderson D.M., Barrow J.R., Fredrickson E.L., Havstad K, Herrick JE, Peters DC
Conference NameNew Mexico Livestock Research Briefs and Cattle Growers' Short Course
Date Published03/2000
ARIS Log Number111101
Keywordscattle growers, Chihuahuan Desert, livestock, rangeland research, research notes

The mission of the Jornada Experimental Range is to develop new technologies for the management and remediation of desert rangelands. We are developing a manual for monitoring rangeland health. Several indicators have been examined and a number of these indicators have proven useful for monitoring purposes, e.g., size of unvegetated patch, perennial grass cover rand soil surface stability. We have worked with individual ranchers in New Mexico to test these methods and have established pilot projects on state lands to demonstrate their application to management. We are also studying prescribed burning of arid rangeland as a tool to improve degraded rangelands. The fire treatment was applied to study sites in 1999 and initial responses to fire and grazing effects will be measured in 2000. We will evaluate effects of fire on ecological processes and post-fire grazing and identify post-fire guidelines for recovery of key species in grazed Chihuahuan Desert grassland. One of our major research objectives is to develop new technologies for controlling distribution of livestock grazing rangelands. Few options presently exist for monitoring animal location and controlling animal movement to a specific area at a particular time. A method and apparatus have been developed that may allow for management of grazing livestock without ground-based fencing. The device worn by an animal incorporates a global positioning system and a geographic information system database to determine and control individual animal movements. We are field testing the ability of a third generation prototype to contain an animal in an area using bilaterally applied sensory cues. This technology could allow producers to reduce management costs, improve utilization of forage and protect ecologically sensitive areas.