Pawnee Buttes Grass Tour held in Grover
The Pawnee Buttes Seeds grass tour met Aug. 15-16 at the Lonesome Pines Land and Cattle Company in Grover, Colo., an area firmly in grazing country. The program concentrated on what rancher Jim Sturrock has deemed the five dimensions of ranching: landscape, time, animals, forage resources and the unexpected.
Even with in depth discussion on important and sometimes complicated topics, Bryan Guercioni, Pawnee Buttes Seed marketing director, said the dialogue was open. Pawnee Buttes Seed hosted a grass tour in 2015 at Sturrock’s ranch after he worked with Pawnee Buttes to reclaim the grass following the installation of wind turbines.
“Jim loves his land,” Guercioni said. “What makes this a unique grass tour is he’s excited and passionate about sharing his love of the land with everyone else.”
Soil health, mycorrhizal fungi, the geology of the land, CO2, photosynthetic cycles, weed identification and control, and biodiversity were all on the slate. The group traveled to neighboring properties to study control methods with varying degrees of success including winter grazing and differently timed applications of herbicide. Plant encroachment discussed included Fringed Sage, Juniper, Cheat Grass, cacti, skunk bush and toad flax. The group was able to study land management in action, see the effects of grazing cycles, and soil health in action.
“When external factors act upon an ecosystem, the living relationship between all things in that environment are at risk of changing,” he said. “A change or reduction in biodiversity can have negative impacts on plants and animals, both wild and domesticated, which depend on that habitat.”
Overgrazing can cause forage to die off and be displaced by competing shrubs and ungrazed grasses at a lower nutritional value. These encroaching plants, he said, often use more water, impacting the local watershed as well as impacting soil fertility and erosion rates.
Pawnee Buttes has been hosting periodic grass tours since 1993. The tour hosted over 50 participants including land managers, representatives from ranches, conservation districts, government agencies, graduate students and Colorado State University Extension. Information about the 2020 tour is available at Pawnee Buttes Seed. ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 392-4410.