Date of this Version
In the central Great Plains, pastures and rangelands often are not economically competitive with grain crops. This has led to increases in acreages of row crops at the expense of rangelands, pastures, and hay crops on marginal lands resulting in severe erosion problems. The productivity of forages, pastures, and rangelands needs to be increased to levels that would make them economically competitive with grain crops. Innovative research will be needed to develop the required knowledge and technology upon which productivity increases can be based. Pastures and rangelands in this area are usually components of production systems which may also include the feeding of hay, silage, crop residues, and other feeds. Coordinated research teams need to be formed that can focus on all components of these production systems. Research needs and objectives of these research teams can be categorized by the land capability classes of the three major ecological regions in this area, the tall-grass, mid-grass, and short-grass prairie. In all of these regions, a classification system that is production-oriented rather than climax-oriented is needed for both pastures and rangelands if effective control of soil erosion and optimal income per land unit are to be achieved. Interstate cooperation in establishing a research team for major ecological region would facilitate the most efficient use of research resources.