For the land enhancement service provider, conducting a quality assessment of the plant communities on a site is critical to the success of the business. The assessment should yield a graze/browse preference list including the time of year the livestock are most likely to select or prefer the target vegetation in the area and the class of livestock most suited for managing the site. Plants targeted for removal must be described and poisonous plants and their toxins identified. Soil textures and their infiltration and percolation characteristics must be understood to address potential erosion.
Sites will need to be monitored with an initial set of monitoring points. Vegetation utilization can be measured and observed with photos, plots, and transects. As part of costing out the project, the service provider will need to know how much biomass is available for browsing or grazing. A site’s history should be researched, including livestock usage, as a reference for disease potential (e.g., blackleg, leptospirosis, listeria, and caseous lymphadenitis) or contaminants in the soil (e.g., herbicide and pesticide residues) or water (e.g., excessive nitrate and sulfur, salmonella, and Escherichia coli).
The overall vegetative composition of the property should be described and areas with target plants delineated. It’s important to list all of the known plant species on a site. A good grazing service provider will review this list and point out plants that may pose problems, like poisonous or threatened or endangered species.
How the animals are managed will depend largely on the target plant species and landscape goals. In some cases herding will be most effective. In others, temporary fencing will be needed. Palatability of the target plant, time of year, weather, and site conditions will also determine management. Some sites may be too rugged to fence, others so urban that fencing is the only solution. Requirements and particular preferences should be clearly stated.