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Agricultural Pasture, Rangeland and Grazing

Information about environmental issues specifically relating to the livestock production in pastures, rangeland, and other grazing operations.

About Pasture, Rangeland, and Other Grazing Operations

  • Rangelands are those lands on which the native vegetation (climax or natural potential plant community) is predominantly grasses, grass-like plants, forbs, or shrubs suitable for grazing or browsing use. Rangelands include natural grassland, savannas, many wetlands, some deserts, tundra, and certain forb and shrub communities.
  • Pastures are those lands that are primarily used for the production of adapted, domesticated forage plants for livestock.
  • Other grazing lands include woodlands, native pastures, and croplands producing forages.

The major differences between rangelands and pastures are the kind of vegetation and level of management that each land area receives. 

  • Rangeland:
    •  Supports native vegetation.
    • Includes areas that have been seeded to introduced species (e.g., crested wheatgrass), but which are extensively managed like native range. 
  • Pastures:
    • Lands that have been seeded, usually to introduced species (e.g., tall fescue) or in some cases to native plants (e.g., switchgrass).
    • Are intensively managed using agronomy practices and control of livestock.

Related information from EPA

More information from USDA

More information from the Bureau of Land Management

More information from the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center (LPELC)

More information from the states

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