Pasture Health Assessment

 Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets | Research Papers

Knowledge Nuggets

  • Healthy pasture has the ability to produce forage for grazing and to maintain soil quality and cycle nutrients. A healthy pasture captures and releases water to sustain a pasture and to promote a healthy watershed.
  • Establishing the health of a pasture starts by examining the existing plant community for desirability, diversity and density. Grazing severity, soil erosion, litter residue, weed and brush encroachment are taken into account in determining pasture health.
  • Pasture scorecards are used to develop a baseline health assessment. Effective use of the scorecards requires training.
  • Visual field observations are used to evaluate six to ten key health indicators.
  • Identification and knowledge of forage species is helpful in evaluating the desirability and diversity of pasture plants.
  • Pasture health assessments are an excellent tool to alert pasture managers of problems.
  • Survey as much of the pasture as possible to ensure that the health assessment reflects pasture conditions
  • Pasture health assessments need to occur on a regular basis (annually) and at the same time each year. This provides a constant comparison between current and past conditions.
  • In intensively grazed pastures, asessing pasture health accurately is more difficult so it is important to complete several health assessments during the grazing season.
  • Health assessments can aid pasture managers in identifying treatments required to improve pasture health which may include adjustments to rotation patterns, fencing or watering systems, animal distribution or the use of inputs.
  • Health assessments are useful in assessing whether changes made to pasture management have led to improvements in pasture health.
  • Health assessments are a useful tool but they must be used in conjunction with other animal, plant or economic information.

Alberta Tame Pasture Score Card

Determining Grassland Condition/Trend - available PDF format

Determining Pasture Conditon - available in PDF format

Guide to Pasture Condition Scoring - available in PDF format

Rangeland Health Assessment for Grassland, Forest and Tame Pasture - available in PDF format

Research Papers

Let us know of good research papers for this topic.
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This document is maintained by Janet Fletcher.
This information published to the web on November 24, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on April 26, 2019.

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