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Home > Protecting Our Lands & Waters > Conservation > Conservation Practices > Grassland Management

Conservation Practices
Minnesota Conservation Funding Guide


Grassland Management

A controlled burn fire line moving across a managed grassland. Photo courtesy Ron VanNimwegen.
A controlled burn fire line moving across a managed grassland. Photo courtesy Ron VanNimwegen.

Examining a well-established grass stand. Photo courtesy USDA NRCS.
Examining a well-established grass stand. Photo courtesy USDA NRCS.

Grassland management keeps grass stands healthy so they continue to provide long-term conservation benefits. It is important for native as well as non-native (introduced) grassland ecosystems. Well established native grasslands, however, typically do not need ongoing insecticide or herbicide treatment for weed control.

Grassland management, especially weed control, is critical in the first few years after grass is planted. Removing dead plant residues through, mowing, clipping, grazing or controlled burning invigorates grassland by creating open soil for new grass growth. Burning is especially useful in killing weed seeds, insects and other pests as well as recycling nutrients to promote vigorous plant growth.

Common additional grassland management activities include long-term invasive species management and re-seeding problem areas. Other aspects of grassland management vary depending on whether and how the grassland is used, e.g., for habitat, pasture, hay, biomass for biofuels or native seed production.

Why manage your grasslands?

Environmental benefits

  • Prevents grassland from turning into brushland
  • Maintains or enhances the soil erosion, water quality, soil quality and carbon sequestration benefits of existing grassland
  • Protects restored habitat for many plants and animals important in Minnesota including pheasant, ducks, songbirds and endangered species

Practical benefits

  • Improves the quality and yield of forage, biomass or native seed production
  • Keeps unwanted species from getting established and becoming a nuisance
  • Provides opportunities for hunting, birding and wildlife watching
  • Keep grass-based conservation practices working properly
  • May support nearby crop health by providing long-term habitat for animals that eat insect pests and habitat for pollinator species that many crops rely upon, such as bees
  • Helps prevent gully formation that requires expensive corrective measures
  • Provides a low-cost alternative to growing crops on marginal land

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Similar & related practices

More information

Guidance from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

Other resources

Minnesota Post-CRP Management Series - MN Dept of Agriculture

See also resources for Controlled Burning and Invasive Species Management.

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Contact

See contacts for specific programs that fund this practice in the side-by-side payment comparison or contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District