University of Kansas Field Station

Patch Burn Grazing Plan - Anderson County Prairie Preserve

Patch Burn Grazing Plan - Anderson County Prairie Preserve
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Published March 10, 2010
Location Anderson County
Category Agriculture
Authors Jorgina A. Ross, W. Dean Kettle
License Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike - Creative Commons License


This project describes Patch-Burn Grazing (PBG), a relatively “new” method of coupling fire and grazing in working landscapes to promote native biodiversity. PBG management is being introduced at the Anderson County Prairie Preserve. The Preserve, sometimes called Welda Prairie, is owned by The Nature Conservancy and operated and administered by the Kansas Biological Survey at the University of Kansas. The goals at the Preserve are to enhance native biodiversity, and to provide a platform for teaching and research.

The aim of PBG is to create habitat heterogeneity and thereby increase biodiversity within native grasslands. It is well-known that both bison (a native grazer) and cattle (introduced by ranchers) are attracted to recently-burned areas. By using this preference, burns can be used within a single grazing unit to dictate where cattle will concentrate. By rotating the burning across a single pasture over years, differences in habitat structure and grazing pressure are created within a single unit; this promotes overall biological diversity. PBG management is being implemented on a 750-site at the Preserve. To ready the site for PBG management, internal fences separating four historic pastures (ranging in size from 150-270 acres each) are removed to create one large grazing unit of about 750 acres. Beginning in the spring of 2010, roughly one-third (250 acres) of the pasture will be burned, and a different one-third will be burned each of the next two years. Beginning in 2013, the area first burned in 2010 will be burned again.

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