Economics of managing mesquite in north Texas: a sensitivity analysis
Additional Document Info
This paper presents a comparative simulation analysis of the economics of prescribed fire and aerially applied root-killing herbicide treatment as methods for maintaining livestock productivity on rangeland in the Texas Rolling Plains. A "no-treatment" scenario is used as the base for comparison. In almost all the simulated scenarios both herbicide application and prescribed burning were economically feasible since net present values were > 0 and benefit/cost ratios were >1. However, the net present values for prescribed fire were much higher that those for the herbicide treatment even with a lower increase in carrying capacity with burning. The cost of herbicide would have to be less than half the current cost of $57 ha-1 before it would be economically competitive with fire in controlling mesquite. If cattle numbers were not increased after treating brush, burning had an even greater net present value and benefit/cost ratio advantage over herbicide treatment than if cow numbers were increased after treatment. Even if fences have to be constructed to implement adequate deferment for burning, the net present value and benefit/cost ratios of the fire option were higher than those for herbicide scenarios. This analysis indicates that there is an economic advantage to using fire wherever possible, and use of herbicides is restricted to those instances when fine fuel amount is < 1,700 kg ha-1 yr-1 when fire is not a viable option. The analyses indicate the economic response is most sensitive to the treatment effect on wildlife income.