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Range Fertilization in the Rocky Mountain Trench – PNWSRM Webinar Series

October 19, 2021 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm MDT


Home on the Range Webinar Series, Fall 2021

Once again, BC Chapter offers a webinar series showcasing projects and case studies of young range management professionals and students in the PNW. Each 30 minute webinar will feature a 15 minute presentation followed by questions and discussions.

October 19, 2021

Range Fertilization in the Rocky Mountain Trench

T.J. Ross, P. Ag

Ross Range and Reclamation Services

Forest ingrowth and encroachment continue to reduce the size of the grazable area in many pastures on Crown range in the Rocky Mountain Trench. Ecosystem restoration treatments have been touted as the long-term solution to the problem. However, increases in forage production, forage quality and grassland condition are needed in the short-term on existing grasslands. The project is designed to investigate the efficacy of range fertilization to increase forage production and forage quality, and improve range condition on grasslands in the Grassland, Ponderosa Pine and Interior Douglas-fir bio-geoclimatic zones.

The project was initiated on five sites on Crown Land in the St. Mary’s Prairie Range Unit, which is located east of Kimberley, BC. Pre-treatment monitoring described the existing plant communities, evaluated grassland condition, determined forage production, described forage quality and determined soil fertility. Control and treated areas were established at each site. A fertilizer blend was developed to correct for soil nutrient deficiencies. The fertilizer treatment was applied in June, 2019.

The most common bunchgrasses encountered at these sites were Idaho fescue, bluebunch wheatgrass and needle-and-thread. Other bunchgrass species included prairie Junegrass, rough fescue, Columbia needlegrass and Sandberg’s bluegrass. Bunchgrass frequency increased from 73% to 100% between 2018 and 2020.

Other grasses include Canada bluegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, slender wheatgrass, western wheatgrass, western needlegrass and smooth bromegrass. Frequency decreased from 53% to 25%.

The most prominent native forbs were graceful cinquefoil, silky lupine, rosy pussytoes, timber milkvetch and daisy species. Native forb frequency was similar among years. Invasive forbs include silvery cinquefoil, sulphur cinquefoil and mustard species. Invasive forb frequency was similar among years.

Total forage production at treated sites averaged less than 340 kg/ha in 2018, but increased to 970 and 1700 kg/ha in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Bunchgrass production responded to the year and grazing treatments, but did not show a fertilizer response. Other grasses production responded to the fertilizer treatment as well as the year and grazing treatments. Forb response was similar to bunchgrasses. No increases in production were detected for invasive species. Growing season precipitation and distribution may have affected fertilizer response as it was 79% of the long-term normal in 2018, 122% in 2019 and 65% in 2020.


October 19, 2021 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm MDT







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