Harry Stobbs Memorial Lecture: Can grazing behavior support innovations in grassland management?

Paulo César de Faccio Carvalho

Abstract


Grazing is a fundamental process affecting grassland ecosystem dynamics and functioning. Its behavioral components comprise how animals search for feed, and gather and process plant tissues in different spatio-temporal scales of the grazing process. Nowadays, there is an increasing emphasis on grazing management and the role of the grazing animal on ecosystem services, concomitantly with a decreasing emphasis on grazing management generating animal production outputs. Grazing behavior incorporates both approaches, which are not necessarily dichotomist. It would provide the basis to support innovation in grazing systems. However, it is unclear how the significant knowledge, developed in this research area since the disciplines of Agronomy and Ecology began to interact, have supported creativity in grazing science. It seems there is a current gap in this context, which was a major concern of researcher leaders like Harry Stobbs. This paper pays tribute to him, reviewing recent grazing behavior research and prioritizing those studies originating in the favorable tropics and subtropics. New evidence on how pasture structure limits forage intake in homogeneous and heterogeneous pastures is presented. Pasture management strategies designed to maximize bite mass and forage intake per unit grazing time are assumed to promote both animal production and landscape value. To conclude, a Brazilian case study (PISA) is briefly described to illustrate how grazing behavior research can reach farmers and change their lives by using simple management strategies (“take the best and leave the rest” rule) supported by reductionist approaches applied in holistic frameworks.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17138/tgft(1)137-155

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