Return on Investment Goals
Corteva’s Rob Brooks outlines some of the landowner goals he has helped ranchers achieve with their brush management procedures.
By Ellen H. Brisendine
Editor’s note: In the March issue of The Cattleman magazine, Rob Brooks, territory manager with Corteva Agriscience at China, between Beaumont and Liberty in East Texas, outlines several goals ranchers and landowners may have for a brush management program.
Those goals range from growing more forage so the landowner can reduce hay purchases or increase stocking rates, to breaking up a monoculture that renders the land useless, to the sheer enjoyment of a beautiful landscape.
Read more of his comments in the companion article “What Return Can You Expect from Investing in Brush Management?”
Create a view you will enjoy
“There is a segment of people who enjoy their land on the weekend and want their place to look nice. Their return is the satisfaction they get when they’re sitting on the porch drinking coffee and enjoying the view they created through their brush management work,” Brooks says.
Create more edges of brush/open space
Edge effect benefits game and non-game wildlife species.
Brooks says he saw this edge effect when he reviewed the results of spraying herbicide along the rights-of-way for power lines. “I saw greater populations of wildlife species using those rights-of-way because they like that edge effect. They can graze the forbs in the open areas and still have cover nearby,” he explains. Open areas allow grasses to become re-established, which can be beneficial habitat for game birds.
Break up useless thickets
Brooks assisted with a management program for a large area that had become infested with sand shinnery oak or running live oak. “Sand shinnery oak can be awful. It can grow from two- to six-feet tall and nothing can get through it. It can grow into such a dense thicket that nothing grows beneath it.
“We administered treatments of Spike® 80DF to reclaim the area for wildlife and waterfowl. The year after application, there was such an increase in grass growth that the landowner had enough fuel for a prescribed burn. They are returning the thicket to native prairie.”
This is an example of how a chemical treatment can open the way for less expensive methods, such as prescribed fire, to be used to manage brush.
Increase forage, reduce feed, improve labor safety
Increasing forage for livestock is a common goal for a brush control program, Brooks says. There can be sub-goals for that additional forage. “More forage can support a higher stocking rate, or reduce the need to buy hay, or support a prescribed burn,” he says, adding, “I have found that cattle producers want the least expensive forage they can produce so they can purchase less or no supplemental feed and be more profitable.”
Clearer pastures also reduce labor costs, Brooks says. “You’ll need less labor to gather cattle from pastures that are clear of brush thickets. If you can avoid having to hire a helicopter to get your cattle out of the brush in South Texas and can gather them on horseback or on a four-wheeler, you are obviously saving you some time and some money. Also, clearer pastures are safer to work,” he says.
Return on Investment Goals is a companion piece to “What Return Can You Expect…” an article in the March 2019 edition of The Cattleman magazine. Join today to start your subscription.
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