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Grazing Response Index (GRI): A Simple and Effective Assessment Of Grazing Management

A field with grazing cows

Healthy rangelands provide sustainable grazing for domestic livestock and supply many environmental, economic and social benefits. Rangeland managers make landscape-level decisions daily that affect rangeland health and productivity. For example, they must estimate how much forage can be removed, how often to graze the rangeland and how much recovery time it receives. But are these decisions improving or maintaining the resource? To answer this question, land managers need monitoring tools that offer a better understanding about the plants and how the rangeland system responds to grazing. Provided in a timely fashion, this information can lead to management decisions that positively and proactively influence forage production and range health.

The intent of any monitoring system is to maintain or improve the resource. While there are several monitoring methods available, the Grazing Response Index (GRI) is a beneficial short-term monitoring tool that offers a simple and effective means of evaluating the impacts of livestock grazing. The GRI provides a comprehensive evaluation of the effects of the current season's make bold grazing management and can be used to make rangeland management decisions for the following year. A key outcome of the GRI is that the information is immediately available to producers and land managers because they are the ones making the observations – there is no need to wait for someone else to gather, interpret and report the data. This timely assessment information allows livestock producers and land managers to make adjustments that are relatively small, but are economically productive and highly beneficial.

Due in large part to its simplicity of use and easily understood underlying science-based concepts, GRI has been widely adopted by ranching communities in western United States and British Columbia. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has been an integral partner in bringing the GRI to Western Canadian ranchers and forage/pasture extension specialists.

For more information on the Grazing Response Index assessment tool and worksheets consult the full publication.

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