|They were using horses to move the cattle to the corral in the distance|
|Opening 'maypop' (Passiflora incarnata) on fence. Larval host to gulf fritillary.|
I get a lot of joy out of working with ranchers on native pastures because there is so much potential. Some level of careful grazing can often increase the presence of blooming plants in our native prairies. The landowner can improve wildlife habitat while still making a living. The theory is this: our tallgrass and mixed grass prairies evolved with grazing and fire. Without grazing, grass has the competitive edge over forbs. It grows faster and shades out our other natives. Cattle and bison preferentially eat grass over most forbs, so light to moderate grazing tips the competitive balance back in favor of flowering plants. Of course, you can over do it. Overstocked and overgrazed pastures can be moonscapes. One must be conscientious.
And the Kerr ranch has been conscientious. They're following the basic range precept of "take half, leave half". It's working here. I took a series of pictures along the pulled electric fence line in their grazed remnant prairie, showing the impact of grazing on the grass-forb balance. Here are some images demonstrating the excellent job that the folks at the Kerr Center are doing with their native pasture:
|Ungrazed above red line, grazed below|
|Ungrazed above red line, tilled and planted below|
|Grazed. Note that the cattle ate around the forbs.|
|Another shot of the grazed half|
|Grazed. Note the circled cow pie.|
More pictures of Kerr Ranch after the jump.
|Native fragrant water lily growing in a back channel|
|Bees were loving this unID'd pink flower. It was growing intermixed with blue waterleaf.|
|This back channel was practically buzzing with bug life|