Grazing public grassland
The following methods or tools are being used by me on this project.
- Evaluation design
- Data-driven decision-making
- Survey design
As a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Agroecology and Agricultural and Applied Economics I worked as a Research Assistant on a five-year USDA-NIFA Hatch project to understand the opportunities and barriers around rotationally grazing public grassland in Wisconsin. The Hatch project focuses on agronomic and biological impacts of grazing on the landscape, as well as facilitating public-private partnerships between graziers and public land managers. There are three levels of the project – experimental, survey, and meta.
The experimental level of the project takes place at three sites where we conduct an experiment. Research at this level is focused on a few specific scientific questions involving how managed grazing affects shrub cover, herbaceous composition, forage productivity and quality, soil compaction and carbon sequestration.
The survey level of the project focuses on generalizing opportunities and barriers to grazing public lands in Wisconsin. This level goes beyond the three sites selected for specific research to all potential public land sites in the state, and all potential producers. Information gathered here will help contextualize and delineate the experimental findings.
The meta level is the project about the project. Currently, there are few best practices for conducting complex transdisciplinary research projects. Therefore, the team thinks it is valuable to conduct evaluative research about the process of this project to hopefully inform similar projects in the future.
My personal research and work on this project has two main components – advanced econometric analysis to determine producer demand for renting public grassland, and evaluation design at three levels of the project.
My work involved designing a survey instrument for a representative population of producers across Wisconsin to determine if and under what scenarios they are interested in renting public land for managed grazing. The results of the survey will allow the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and other public agencies to undergo data-driven decision-making as they design public grazing programs.
Additionally, I facilitated an outcome mapping process, logic model design, and a clarification process to define the various levels of the project.