Native range matches rainfall and environment and gives the highest production when managed right.
Native range has long got a bum rap because people didn’t understand how to manage grassland, but in fact it was and is the ultimate grassland crop.
Kansas NRCS rangeland management specialist Doug Spencer calls native range “the perfect cover crop,” which seems fitting in this age when cover cropping is all the rage and is on the tip of so many tongues.
Sadly, there is little true native range left and most of that scattered from Texas to Nebraska, but the lessons it can teach us are useful and much of it could be restored in time.
Spencer lists several assets of native range. It’s a list which should make cover croppers exclaim, “Oh if only we had that!”
1. Native range is an efficient water user.
2. It is highly diverse, with dozens or hundreds of species.
3. It has a deep, productive root system.
4. It forms multiple relationships with mycorrhizal fungi.
5. It requires no fertilizer.
6. It reseeds itself or regrows entirely from root stock.
7. It is drought resistant.
8. It is beneficial for wildlife
9. It is safe for grazing.