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Pasture is land used for grazing. Pasture lands in the narrow sense are enclosed tracts of farmland, grazed by domesticated livestock, such as horses, cattle, sheep or swine. The vegetation of tended pasture, forage, consists mainly of grasses, with an interspersion of legumes and other forbs (non-grass herbaceous plants). Pasture is typically grazed throughout the summer, in contrast to meadow which is used for grazing only after being mown to make hay for winter fodder. Pasture in a wider sense additionally includes rangelands, other unenclosed pastoral systems, and land types used by wild animals for grazing or browsing.
Pasture lands are distinguished from rangelands by being managed through more intensive agricultural practices of seeding, irrigation, and the use of fertilizers, while rangelands grow primarily native vegetation, managed with extensive practices like controlled burning and regulated intensity of grazing.
Soil type, minimum annual temperature, and rainfall are important factors in pasture management.
- General Information/Resources -
- National Range and Pasture Handbook (Link)
The National Range and Pasture Handbook provide procedures in support of NRCS policy for the inventory, analysis, treatment, and management of grazing land resources. Revision 1 of the handbook contains revisions to incorporate current concepts and format for developing rangeland ecological site descriptions and forage suitability group descriptions. Information was added regarding the effects of vegetation, grazing, and management on rangeland and pastureland hydrology and erosion.
- Pasture and Grazing Management in the Northwest (PDF)