Why are healthy rangelands more drought resistant?
- As the density of cover increases, the soil is shaded causing limited rainfall to be conserved within the soil, evaporation due to wind and direct sunlight is reduced to a minimum.
- The leaf surface of the established plants breaks the intensity of heavy rainfall into more manageable-small droplets of water, reducing compaction and creating an adaptive environment for water absorption into the soil.
- The litter on the ground holds the rainfall in place so that it has more time to be absorbed. The root systems create avenues for the water to be absorbed.
- The deeper the roots the deeper water can rapidly be absorbed. These positive results of saving-storing water create this dense grass cover of grasses.
- As the root systems become denser, some roots are actively growing, and some are in the dying process – starting the recycling of the decaying roots and ground litter. This process gives soil microbes, bacteria, earth worms etc. the chance to thrive, further creating even healthier soils.
- Those healthy soils with increased humus levels, can retain much more water than degraded soils that have lost their high levels of humus that have washed or blown away due to little cover.
Each step in the process of retaining water in the soil moves the rangeland to a higher plain of succession. When a good grazing management plan is implemented the draws and creek areas are the first to respond, as that is the place that gets the most water from runoff of poorer rangeland. As the density of perennial grasses increase the faster the rangeland resource improves. Even in short grass country dramatic things happen very quickly in those low-lying areas, even the ridges and shallow sites respond quickly. The deep soiled ‘flats’ are much slower to show improvement, a process that is the opposite of what many believe should happen. Lack of consistent rainfall in a dry -brittle- environment is a contributor to this phenomenon. Beginning this process of renewable rangeland takes effort from the rangeland manager, his utilization of a properly implemented sound grazing management plan -while not a simple-easy process- can bear much fruit, renewing the rangeland resource and improving the financial assets of the producer.
The Better it Gets, The Faster it Gets Better
The photo below is of a healthy stand of Texas Bluegrass, the result of a balanced warm-cool season graze-rest program.