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Sustainable land management for grazing land

grazing land


Grazing lands are lands where grass or grass-like vegetation grows and is the dominant form of plant life, and are used mainly for animal production. Grazing lands cover a broad range of land use types and include:

  • Pastures: a field covered with grass or herbage and suitable for grazing by livestock;
  • Savannahs: flat grassland in tropical or subtropical regions with scattered trees;
  • Steppes: temperate or tropical grassland that only has trees near lakes and rivers; located in places including southern Russia, central Asia, southern South America, the central United States and western Canada;
  • Hayfields: a field where grass or alfalfa are grown to be made into hay, and
  • Grasslands, which may be used, either partially or exclusively, as grazing land.

Land management challenges in grazing lands

According to the report on sustainable land management (SLM) by the UNCCD Science-Policy Interface (SPI), grazing lands have become degraded due to human activities and over-grazing. Other factors, such as climate variability and gaps in feed supply, also negatively affect productivity, especially in dryland areas.

Examples of related SLM technologies

Sustainable land management (SLM) technologies that reduce grazing pressure or improve the management of animal waste can address soil and land degradation, reduce GHG emissions, and could simultaneously improve productivity. Below are examples of best practices in these technologies cited in the report on SLM by the SPI.

Improved cattle shed for urine collection

Collection of cattle urine in improved cattle sheds for use as liquid manure and organic pesticide. Cattle urine, which is a viable alternative to mineral fertiliser, is collected in a pit or drum and protected from rain and runoff. Where urine is collected for incorporation with farmyard manure, the pit may be directly connected to the manure pit or heap. Urine that is used as liquid manure or organic pesticide is stored in a drum for fermentation.

Range pitting and reseeding

Technique used to restore degraded rangelands (steppe areas). Small shallow ‘pits’ are scooped out by the action of inclined metal disks (similar to the disks of a disk plough). A seed hopper mounted on the top releases small quantities of range-plant seeds into the pits and an attached light harrow covers the seeds with a thin layer of loose topsoil. For optimal reestablishment of vegetation, grazing should be controlled during the initial establishment phase.

Improved fodder production on degraded pastureland

Transformation of degraded pastureland to high quality fodder plot. Grass and legumes are planted on degraded pasture land in fenced fodder plots to improve the availability of quality forage and fodder for livestock during the dry season and to feed small ruminants. The technology also reduces runoff, increases water infiltration during the rains and lessens the effect of floods.

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