Reading Your Landscape

People in a fieldSome of the primary factors affecting where rainfall goes are the type, quantity, and density of vegetation; storm intensity; soil moisture prior to the storm event; soil water-holding capacity; and slope.

Your management determines the condition of the soil and the vegetation upon which precipitation falls. Appropriate range management can provide for sustainable production of livestock and wildlife, decrease erosion, improve water quality and quantity, and enhance recreational and other benefits if you capture the rainfall received and make timely decisions that prevent degradation of the resource.The amount and timing of rainfall is important, but range resource productivity is more closely tied to the amount of soil moisture captured and utilized by desirable plant species. Through historical rainfall analysis you can estimate your risk probability of receiving different amounts of rainfall throughout the year. Your current and past management determines how much rainfall infiltrates into the soil, the kinds of plants present to utilize the soil moisture captured, and the amount of runoff, sediment, and non-point source pollutants that leave your property.

Climatic risk and uncertainty have to be managed to prevent degradation of resources, maintain or improve resources for the future, prevent non-point source pollution, and to reduce impacts of adverse conditions on production and financial resources.

Reading the landscape to determine what is happening to your range resource is essential for adjusting management to prevent degradation and to take advantage of opportunities.

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