5 Solutions to Overgrazing Explained
Solutions to overgrazing are; land resources management, sustainable agricultural practices, ecologic cycle considerations, impact monitoring, and forage supplementation or substitution.
Generally, we can solve overgrazing and its effects by taking proactive steps to ensure that forage consumption does not exceed the natural capacity or affect the sustainability of the ecosystem.
This article discusses the solutions to overgrazing, as follows;
1). Land Resources Management (as one of the Solutions to Overgrazing)
The management of land resources as a solution to overgrazing, may be referred to as landscape management, or land use management, depending on the specific conditions involved.
For all cases, such practices involve the implementation of deliberate measures to reduce the intensity of grazing per unit area of pastoral land.
To achieve this, two factors that must be addressed are; cattle population size and duration of grazing, per unit area.
Temporary fencing is one simple measure that can be used to control cattle stocking density and grazing duration on land , especially when it is used in combination with effective monitoring.
Other measures of land resource management often overlap with sustainable agricultural practices.
The appropriate measure to be taken for protection and management of land resources at any given time must be based on a combination of existing ecologic conditions in situ (on site), characteristics of herbivores involved, and intended outcomes or operator objectives.
2). Sustainable Agricultural Practices
Since overgrazing itself is often a product of unsustainable agricultural practices, it is not difficult to predict that sustainable farming can be helpful for the reversal of this problem.
The primary aim of sustainable agricultural practices with regards to solving overgrazing problems, is to ensure that livestock needs are aligned with, and do not exceed, available land and plant-biomass resources.
A practice that directly deals with the livestock themselves in order to achieve this is rotational grazing, whereby cattle are made to graze on sections or paddocks of pastoral land in a rotary sequence .
This practice controls both grazing density and duration, and allows land that has been grazed to regrow or regenerate its lost resources.
Sustainable agriculture is especially needed when land degradation has been caused by a combination of overgrazing and over cultivation. For such cases, practices like crop rotation, mulching, conservation tillage and cover cropping, are all recommendable.
3). Ecologic Cycle Considerations (as one of the Solutions to Overgrazing)
Taking full consideration of ecologic cycles that control the flow of nutrients, trend of climatic seasonal variations, and the growth patterns or lifecycle(s) of plants, is very important in the effort to solve the overgrazing problem.
Some regions that are prone to desertification, experience drought intermittently in a regular and repeating, cyclic pattern.
Others are dominated by plant species whose growth rates, and reproduction, occur on a cyclic basis.
Biogeochemical cycles control many processes and elements that are essential for forage growth, including carbon sequestration and nitrogen fixation .
When data on such cyclic patterns is obtained through evaluation, it is possible to conduct or control livestock grazing in such a manner that ensures that forage removal rates align with the trend of natural regeneration.
This is similar to the approach proposed by some sustainable agricultural principles like organic farming, permaculture and biodynamic farming. It results in a scenario where productivity is optimized through alignment with natural interactions that occur between abiotic and biotic factors, and with the production capacity of the ecosystem.
4). Impact Monitoring
Impact monitoring can be used as a general term to describe the act of taking inventory of the dynamics and environmental impacts of overgrazing.
The relevance of impact monitoring transcends all stages and aspects of overgrazing control or resolution.
In the planning stage, monitoring can help provide data on forage growth and rainfall patterns, among others that can be used to draft an effective scheme of action.
After implementation, monitoring is still useful as part of routine management to observe the outcome(s) of measures taken, and make decisions on subsequent steps.
5). Forage Supplementation or Substitution (as one of the Solutions to Overgrazing)
An important and acceptable explanation for overgrazing in general, is the inadequacy of available forage to meet the existing dietary needs of herbivores within a given area.
The direct solution to this problem is forage supplementation of substitution.
In forage supplementation, plant biomass from external sources is provided to support the available feedstock and prevent over-dependence on in-situ forage.
This is the same approach behind forage substitution, except that it involves a total replacement of existing forage with feed from external sources.
Hay is an example of a suitable supplement or substitute for in-situ forage.
Solutions to overgrazing are;
1. Land Resources Management
2. Sustainable Agricultural Practices
3. Ecologic Cycle Considerations
4. Impact Monitoring
5. Forage Supplementation or Substitution
1). Rinehart, L.; Morris, J. (2022). “Paddock Design, Fencing, Water Systems, and Livestock Movement Strategies for Multi-Paddock Grazing.” Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/362482132_Paddock_Design_Fencing_Water_Systems_and_Livestock_Movement_Strategies_for_Multi-Paddock_Grazing. (Accessed 10 December 2022).
2). Undersander, D.; Albert, B.; Cosgrove, D.; Johnson, D.; Peterson, P. (1993). “Pastures for profit: A guide to rotational grazing.“ Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265307104_Pastures_for_profit_A_guide_to_rotational_grazing. (Accessed 10 December 2022).
3). Wang, Y.; Houlton, B. Z.; Field, C. B. (2007). “A model of biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus including symbiotic nitrogen fixation and phosphatase production.” Global Biogeochemical Cycles 21(1):GB1018. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1029/2006GB002797. (Accessed 10 December 2022).