CASE STUDY 1 
Montana Ranchland

LOCATION:

Location:  Montana

PROPERTY OWNERSHIP:

Private

PROBLEM:

Historic ranching and farming operations resulted in prevalent cheatgrass and a low cover of perennial grasses leading ranch managers in search of a method for restoring these degraded pastures.  Previous grazing pasture restoration attempts using herbicides, seeding, and variations in grazing management were unsuccessful. This pasture was formerly irrigated and farmed. Under new ranch ownership irrigation was discontinued and vegetation cover converted to annual grass dominance. The image below shows the prevalence of annual grass (red) in the test plot vicinity.

APPROACH:

Micronutrient fertilization was implemented in Spring 2019 to assess the potential for perennial grass reestablishment in these historic pastures. Both granular and liquid fertilizer applications (10 acres each) were implemented to compare effectiveness, cost, and implementability. 

APPLICATION RATES:

Granular 350 pounds fertilizer/acre

 Liquid 100 gallons fertilizer/acre

APPLICATION TIMING

Plots were installed May 8, 2019 (granular) and May 9, 2019 (liquid) early in the growing season when grasses were a few inches tall.

APPLICATION METHOD:

Granular:  1 ton pickup towing fertilizer cart.  Fertilizer was applied in 5 light perpendicular passes to ensure even distribution.

Liquid: Applied with an ATV skid-mounted 100 gallon spray unit using multiple perpendicular passes to ensure uniformity.
(No picture available)

VEGETATION CONDITION AT TIME OF INSTALLATION

estimated at >60% annual grasses, <10% perennial grasses. Quantitative measurements were not performed due to the early season phenology of plants.

CLICK PHOTO TO SEE LARGER DETAILS

Vegetation Monitoring 14 months later (July 2020):

Quantitative Measurements: Mean values from 10 cover frame measurements

Ranchland_Chart.jpg

Overall: The treatment performed well to promote the growth of perennial grasses at this location. Installation was successful using both the granular and liquid formulations, however, the granular application was easier since it didn’t require mixing with water. The post-treatment photos shown are essentially the second growing season since treatment since the early May application was at the beginning of the 2019 growing season. Livestock were fenced off from the treated pasture in 2020 after demonstrating a strong preference for the treated portion of the pasture.