Patch-Burn Grazing Impacts Forage Resources in Subtropical Humid Grazing Lands

Elizabeth H. Boughton, Nuria Gomez-Casanovas, Hilary Swain, Carl Bernacchi, Raoul K. Boughton, Keith Brinsko, Haoyu Li, Alan Rivero, Evan H. DeLucia, Jed Sparks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Subtropical humid grazing lands represent a large global land use and are important for livestock production, as well as supplying multiple ecosystem services. Patch-burn grazing (PBG) management is applied in temperate grazing lands to enhance environmental and economic sustainability; however, this management system has not been widely tested in subtropical humid grazing lands. The objective of this study was to determine how PBG affected forage resources, in comparison with the business-as-usual full-burn (FB) management in both intensively managed pastures (IMP) and seminative (SN) pastures in subtropical humid grazinglands. We hypothesized that PBG management would create patch contrasts in forage quantity and nutritive value in both IMP and SN pastures, with a greater effect in SN pastures. A randomized block design experiment was established in 2017 with 16 pastures (16 ha each), 8 each in IMP and SN at Archbold Biological Station's Buck Island Ranch in Florida. PBG management employed on IMP and SN resulted in creation of patch contrast in forage nutritive value and biomass metrics, and recent fire increased forage nutritive value. Residual standing biomass was significantly lower in burned patches of each year, creating heterogeneity within both pasture types under PBG. PBG increased digestible forage production in SN but not IMP pastures. These results suggest that PBG may be a useful management tool for enhancing forage nutritive value and creating patch contrast in both SN and IMP, but PBG does not necessarily increase production relative to FB management. The annual increase in tissue quality and digestible forage production in a PBG system as opposed to once every 3 yr in an FB system is an important consideration for ranchers. Economic impacts of PBG and FB management in the two different pasture types are discussed, and we compare and contrast results from subtropical humid grazing lands with continental temperate grazing lands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-21
Number of pages12
JournalRangeland Ecology and Management
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • LTAR
  • cattle
  • fire
  • forage nutritive value
  • forage quantity
  • pyric herbivory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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