The Kerr Center uses a simple but effective technique to assess plant composition in pastures on the Stewardship Ranch.
All employees with a working knowledge of plant identification are gathered, and spread out in a line across the pasture to be evaluated, with about 30 feet between each pair of people.
Each person walks forward 10 steps and then identifies the plant directly under the toe of his or her shoe.
This is repeated until 100 data points have been collected. For example, if five people are involved, each walks 200 steps and makes 20 plant measurements; five people times 20 measurements equals 100 data points.
As plants are identified, they are also assigned to one of the following categories:
grass: annual/perennial, warm-/cool-season legume: annual/perennial, warm-/cool-season forb: desirable/undesirable
Non-plant categories include:
litter (dead plant matter in contact with the soil)
This process gives a good idea of what is available to eat in the pastures, their stage of growth, and how the plant composition in the pastures change through the seasons.
These videos explain the forage assessment procedure, and the identification of forage plants common in the area: