Sponsor: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Presenter: Dr. Laura Goodman
Grasslands and savannas worldwide are an imperiled biome—particularly as a result of woody plant encroachment (WPE), increasingly extreme climatic conditions, and more frequent and intense wildfires. This is especially true for the Great Plains of the United States. We contend here that the widespread adoption of pyric herbivory (the synergistic application of fire and grazing) and mixed-species grazing (cattle and goats) would not only make grasslands and savannas more resilient to environmental change but also enhance the profitability of livestock production systems. These management strategies control woody plants, enhance forage quality, and increase animal production. Although this new management paradigm holds tremendous promise, it has not been widely adopted because of cultural constraints. Saving the remaining grasslands in the Great Plains and elsewhere will require a widespread shift in cultural norms—facilitated by targeted government incentives and a coordinated program of regional research, extension, and education.