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Department of Agronomy

Beneficial Management Practices

Rangelands generally contribute to water quality problems three ways:


A lack of healthy rangeland vegetation on all or part of the rangeland, such as overgrazed or weed-infested sites, can result in decreased infiltration and increased velocity and volume of runoff. Increased water velocity and volume increase ephemeral and streambank erosion.

Upland Solutions: maintain healthy native vegetation

  1. Control brush and weeds
    • Mechanical
    • Chemicals: spot spray, keep away from water
    • Fire
  2. Plan stocking rate and duration to fit forage availability
  3. Introduction of weed seed
  4. Use prescribed burning appropriately
  5. Distribute livestock
  6. Fence out sensitive areas
  7. Minimize or eliminate areas of animal concentration (traps, corrals, lots, pens, shade, winter feeding sites)


Livestock trailing to water trample stream- or pond-side vegetation, reducing bank stability. Banks with low stream stability are easily eroded by water flow. Cattle trails also channel water into the stream or pond. These areas of concentrated flow are also susceptible to erosion. Ponds fill with silt as cattle trample banks.

Riparian Solutions: minimize use or remove livestock from riparian area

  1. Provide hardened access areas
  2. Fence out sensitive areas
  3. Provide alternative watering sites
  4. Remove attractants
  5. Provide alternative windbreaks/shade
  6. Move winter feeding sites away from riparian areas
  7. Minimize or eliminate areas of animal concentration (traps, corrals, lots, pens, shade, winter feeding sites)
  8. Plant vegetative buffers (native vegetation, sufficient width, follow contour)
  9. Manage separately from uplands

Nutrient deposition-riparian

Nutrient enrichment occurs when manure is deposited so closely to the stream that there is insufficient vegetative buffer to filter out nitrogen and phosphorus before runoff enters the stream. Algal blooms can be evidence of nutrient enrichment. Nutrient enrichment is exacerbated by erosion, as nutrients are frequently transported while attached to soil particles.

Microorganism deposition-riparian

Disease-causing microorganisms in manure such as E. coli, Shigella, Salmonella, Listeria, giardia, and cryptosporidium can be released into surface and ground water when there is insufficient filtering by vegetation or soil. Carcasses can also contribute to microbial contamination of water.

  1. Appropriate disposal of livestock carcasses
  2. Plug abandoned wells
  3. Maintain safe distance between livestock and wells