NB_190_19_3 - NB 190-19-3 ECS – Developing Pasture State Interpretations
NB 190-19-3 ECS – Developing Pasture State Interpretations
National Bulletin: 190-19-3 Date: November 21, 2018
Subject: ECS – Developing Pasture State Interpretations

Purpose.  To notify the agency and offer assistance and training to States on the incorporation of pastureland information into the ecological site description (ESD) format and state-and-transition model (STM) framework.     
Background.  The agency’s current approach to pasture management is the use of forage suitability group descriptions (FSGDs) that are incomplete in geography and inconsistent in application and storage.  Although instruction for developing forage suitability groups within NRCS has existed since 2003, only four States have developed approved FSGDs while seven other States have reports in varying formats within the Field Office Technical Guide as of September 2017.  FSGDs also lack ecological context for improved conservation planning.     
Explanation.In suitable areas, both rangelands and forestlands have been or have the potential to be converted into various land uses such as pastureland, cropland, and agroforestry.  Conversely, if desired, alternative land uses may have the potential to be restored to its previous state.  Therefore, land uses are considered “states” within the STM framework of an ecological site.  Each “state” in the STM framework has the potential to provide users with key management interpretations through NRCS desktop or mobile applications.  

“Pasture states” will contain the same previously required FSGD information (adapted species, production, management interpretations, and growth curves).  They will also provide site-level ecological context and a baseline to conduct pasture condition evaluations for improved decision-making.  Additionally, incorporating pasture management information into the ecological site description (ESD) format and STM framework will provide consistent interpretations in relation to various land use objectives while improving the selection, implementation, and assessment of conservation practices.

States will develop pasture state interpretations using any existing FSGD information first.  Ecological site technical teams, as defined in Title 190, National Ecological Site Handbook, Part 630, will provide the necessary expertise to develop pasture state interpretations in areas without sufficient information.  The National Grazing Lands Team will provide instructional trainings through webinars, technical notes, and onsite visits if requested.  The incorporation of pasture management interpretations into the ESD format should be accomplished during the provisional ecological site initiative or soon thereafter.  States should begin to develop pasture states as resources allow with the eventual goal of developing pasture states for each suitable ESD.  FSGDs should be phased out of State technical guidance once pasture states have been developed.

The attachment provides protocols for developing pasture states.  For assistance in developing and writing pasture state interpretations, please contact the National Grazing Land Technology Acquisition and Development Team and your national technology support center specialists. 

Contact.   Questions regarding this bulletin should be directed to Johanna Pate, rangeland management specialist, at (817) 509-3227 or Johanna.Pate@ftw.usda.gov.




Acting Deputy Chief for Science and Technology
Attachment – Protocols for Developing Pasture States   
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