Lesson 1. Planning a Grazing System — Appendix C

This Job Sheet was designed for use by persons with different levels of technical ability. It can be used quickly and without tools, to visually estimate the condition and trend on grasslands. For example, when it asks for a %, the user should make their best visual estimate. It reminds the user to evaluate 10 items important to grassland condition/trend. With experience, condition/trend surveys will be quite consistent between users.

Use Appendix Ca (PDF) to inventory up to 5 different fields or sites, or to record change on the same field or site for 5 years. Enter the Pasture Type for the site being evaluated. Acres can be the total acres in the field or the acres represented by the evaluation. The month and year should be recorded at M___ and Y___.


  1. Plant Population: Visually estimate the % composition by weight of each plant grouping and assign a weighted value. Desirable, intermediate and undesirable will vary with site, kind of grazing animal and intended use.
  2. Plant Diversity: The number of different kinds of plants that are well represented on the site. If only one kind of plant occurs, diversity is narrow; if six or more kinds are present, diversity is broad.
  3. Plant Density: Ignore undesirables and visually estimate density of living desirable and intermediate species that would be present at a two-inch stubble. Is there room for more desirable and intermediate plants?
  4. Plant Vigor: Are the desirable and intermediate species healthy and growing at their potential? Some things to look for are; color, leaf area index, reproduction, presence of weeds, rate of growth and regrowth, etc.
  5. Legumes in Stand: Visually estimate the % composition by weight of the legumes present in the stand for the area being evaluated.
  6. Severity of Use: Close and frequent use causes loss of vigor, reduces desirable species, and promotes erosion and runoff. Light use allows excessive residue buildup, blocks sunlight, and reduces palatability.
  7. Uniformity of Use: Uniform grazing has all plants grazed to a moderate, uniform height throughout the field. Spotty grazing appears uneven, with some plants or parts of the field grazed heavily and others lightly.
  8. Soil Erosion: Visually observe and collectively evaluate all types of erosion and determine the severity for the area being surveyed.
  9. Woody Canopy: Estimate the percent canopy (shaded area at noon) of woody cover over six feet tall.
  10. Plant Residue: Appropriate residue provides adequate ground cover to retard runoff, returns nutrients to the soil, and provides a favorable microclimate for biological activity.


Where needed, use weighted values and interpolate. For example; if you can’t decide between a value of 2 or 3 use a value of 2.5.