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A California Cornucopia – Rangelands, Pastureland, Hay Crops*

A California Cornucopia – Rangelands, Pastureland, Hay Crops*

“Rangeland. If a single item tends to get lost in a discussion of California agriculture, it is rangeland an its products.  For this there is a reason.  The term ‘rangeland’ is to a large part of the public a kind of obscure default category: whatever isn’t cropland, deep forest, or a subalpine highland is by default considered rangeland.  Actually, even forests are grazed by cattle, who sport sturdy bells in the Sierra Nevada or Cascade Range so that they can be tracked in the forest understory.  ….

“Pastureland. Almost any field in California can be grazed.  After a crop is harvested, livestock are routinely moved onto the remnants or stubble left on the field.  The practice isn’t universal because fence and controlling the animals can be an issue.  But there is an important distinction between rangeland, which is unirrigated and essentially natural, and pasture….

“Hay Crops. A common variation on pasturage is hay lands, which are planted to various species of introduced grasses or legumes, allowed to grow to maturity, … but with a swather into windrows, cued dry in the field, and baled for transport and feed (to livestock)….”

Read the geographers’ perspective about and description of  California’s rangelands and related forage production that supports the livestock community and  the land stewardship provided by the livestock.

* Field Guide to California Agriculture, by Paul F. Starrs and Peter Goin, University of California Press, 2010, pp 39-48.