When the early settlers moved west into South Dakota, the found very few trees. Trees are a vital part of the prairie landscape, as well as a renewable resources in our state. In fact, there are several types of forests in South Dakota.


South Dakotans rely on the land to survive. Agriculture is a $17 billion business in the state. About 16.5 million acres or 37% of the land resource is classified as cropland


Grasslands are one of South Dakota’s greatest natural resources, as they are the base of a food chain that supports hundreds of species of wildlife as well as livestock. Grasses make their own food and energy, making them a renewable resource when managed properly.

Plants Resource Concerns

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Pest Pressure

Plant Pest Pressure

Excessive pest damage to plants including that from undesired plants, diseases, animals, soil borne pathogens and nematodes. This concern addresses invasive plant, animal, and insect species.

Degraded Plant Condition

Plant Productivity & Health

Plants established in the wrong climate or soil may be under stress and may never thrive, no matter how much fertilizer or water you supply. Natural events, such as drought, or mismanagement can cause plant stress. Plants under stress are more susceptible to disease and insect damage. Symptoms of poor plant vigor and health may include slow growth, discoloration of leaves, wilting or drooping foliage, leaf drop, and/or discolored roots.

Plant Structure & Composition

Inadequate structure and composition refers to plants and associated organisms (bacteria, fungi, animals) that share a defined area or environment but lack the diversity, density, distribution patterns, and three-dimensional structures needed to produce preferred products or achieve environmental objectives. This includes degradation of wetland habitat, targeted ecosystems, or unique plant communities.

The interaction between plants, other organisms, and environmental factors such as soil, climate, and topography influence how a plant community functions to cycle nutrients, capture and release water, protect and build soil, nurture wildlife, or produce usable products.

Fire Management

Wildfire Hazard from Biomass Accumulation

All plants produce litter from leaves, stalks, or stems. Normally, this residue is either left to decompose and nourish the next generation of plants and animals, or it is harvested and used for straw, mulch, bio-fuel, pulp, etc. While biomass can be a great source of renewable energy, having high amounts of plant biomass can create wildfire hazards that pose risks to human safety, structures, plants, animals, and air resources.
Biomass is organic material from plants or animals that is not used for food or feed.

South Dakota Department of Agriculture
South Dakota Department of Agriculture