Is drought more prevalent today within the Great Plains than when European man arrived in the Americas? According to tree ring studies that is not the case. Several droughts of the pre-European’s tenure were much longer and more severe than imaginable to modern man. Yet the rangeland and its plant life adapted to those harsh conditions.
Is drought more severe now than it was early on? Yes, without a doubt, the loss of much of the healthy rangelands continuous cover of the soil by the grasses-forbs-browse and their deep-healthy root systems reduced much of our once healthy rangelands to bare soil, unhealthy plants with shallow roots. Thus, the rangeland is affected by shortage of rainfall much quicker that when nature was in total control.
Why did this happen? Disruption of nature’s well adapted solutions to the influence of continually changing climatic conditions. Loss of herding effect of the huge herds of wildlife, loss of those herds moving to fresh grazing not to return to grazed areas for considerable time, fragmentation of the rangelands and above all poor grazing practices of livestock grazers that did not understand what was happening.
Can this drought issue be changed? We cannot go back to those pristine days of the past, but we can cause our rangeland to make considerable strides to recovering from the effects of drought. The answer is relatively simple with the initiation of sound grazing policies that emphasize the use of animal impact and rest-recovery from that animal impact.
Following Natures Time Tested Example-Process is the Key Ingredient.
After the extended dry of no rainfall from May thru September of this past year deep roots and dense grass cover provide (Although somewhat wilted) green grazing forage. Photo taken mid-September