Tropical Grasslands (2000) Volume 34, 192–198

Grasslands, grazing animals and people — How do they all fit together?

R.D.B. WHALLEY

Botany, School of Rural Science and Natural Resources, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia

Abstract

The view of pastures as a crop to be selected, sown, grown and harvested by grazing animals was common among scientists, government agency staff and livestock producers during the 1960s. Consequences of this view include the search for 'magic bullet' pasture species and the indiscriminate introduction and widespread testing of introduced germplasm in Australia. A number of serious environmental weeds have resulted. Another consequence was the almost complete dependence on cultivation, sowing, fertiliser application and herbicides as the only means of manipulating species composition in pastures.
The view that both the manager and the livestock are part of a complex grassland ecosystem has been gaining acceptance in recent years. The goals and perceptions of the manager as well as the activities of the livestock affect the functioning of this ecosystem in many ways. Further important consequences of this change in attitude have included the recognition of the power of grazing animals in manipulating the species composition of grasslands and a more sustainable approach to the management of grazing lands.

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