Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Published asNebraska Conservation Bulletin Number 22, February 1941. Published by The University of Nebraska Conservation and Survey Division, Lincoln.


According to Doctor J. E. Weaver and Mr. W. W. Hansen the purpose of this bulletin is to present certain facts involved in range and pasture management by outlining in some detail the fundamental phenomenon of vegetational change upon which all rational pasture studies must be based. They maintain that the native prairie vegetation is an organic entity in close adjustment with soil and climate, which has developed gradually to its present condition of dynamic stabilization. When the prairie is grazed and trampled, various changes occur, the nature and extent of which vary somewhat directly with the degree of disturbance, but under protection or deferred grazing, repair of moderate damage normally occurs rapidly. Once degeneration of the prairie is well under way, however, it proceeds so gradually and effectively that it is usually not observed until great loss in productivity is sustained, and several years are required for recovery. The stages in degeneration, how and why they occur, the types of pasture that are produced, and causes of complete disintegration are fully outlined and illustrated in this bulletin, which states that a knowledge of the stages of prairie degeneration affords a scientific basis for planned range improvement and pasture management. Doctor Weaver is eminently fitted by long study of grasslands in the midwestern and far western states to understand and analyze the problems of grazing native pastures. His scientific training is tempered by an unusual interest in the application of scientific facts to practical problems of crop production. He knows that native forage produced in pastures is an important crop largely within the control of man, a fact greatly emphasized by the recent drought. This crop may be decreased or increased next year and the next, depending much upon the present treatment of the range. This bulletin on the fundamental, underlying principles of the origin, composition, and deterioration of native midwestern pastures is to be followed by one recording extensive experiments on the improvement of pasture under protection.

(99 pages)