Talk:Proposed features/pasture

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Discuss Tag:landuse=pasture:

Grazing/mowing as the primary distinction between meadow and pasture

I don't think it's correct to use this as the primary distinction between pasture and meadow. A pasture is always grazed, but a meadow is not always mown, it can also be grazed, for instance, see:

As I understand, the major distinction between a meadow and a pasture is that:

  • a meadow is left uncut through the Summer, to allow the various plants to grow, either to maintain biodiversity, and encourage the growth of wild flowers, or to be cut for hay.
  • a pasture is grazed throughout the Summer, in a more continuous way.

Also, a meadow is likely to have a wider range of plant species, whereas a pasture will tend to contain a relatively small number of high yield grass species.

Along the same lines, I'm not sure unevenness is a good way of making a distinction. A meadow may well be even when is it cut or grazed short, but it won't be when the plants grow out. And a pasture may be even or uneven depending on the species of animal which is grazing it. Horses may be picky grazers, but sheep will crop the entire field consistently.

I'm fully in support of the idea, though, just an attempt at constructive comment.

Eadgar (talk) 00:12, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

landuse=pasture or landuse=meadow - meadow=pasture?

landuse=pasture meadow=pasture

I think that *some* means must be found to distinguish between meadow and pasture. The main question therefore should be whether to use landuse=pasture or the old landuse=meadow in combination with meadow=pasture. Your comments please. --Segatus 18:32, 28 July 2013 (BST)

We already suffer a lot from the mess that landuse=grass, landuse=farm, landuse=farmland, landuse=meadow, and natural=grassland, natural=fell, and surface=grass have overlapping meanings. Adding another tag like these would only make it worse. Therefore, I strongly oppose tags like landcover=grass or landuse=pasture.
As far as I understand you, landuse=pasture is intended to cover as a subset of landuse=meadow. This is a typical case for a subtag. I think that meadow=* is a very good idea. That way we can distinguish what we call Wiese, Weide, Mähweide etc. in German, without adding an endless list of further first-level tags. I still think that mappers can hardly determine the value of the subtag in practice, and there will be a big percentage of wrong or outdated values, but at least it doesn't break anything. --Fkv (talk) 11:50, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
I very much agree with Fkv. This is particularly true if you consider that farmers can (and do) alternate pasturage and mowing on the same parcel.
--Cartinus (talk) 14:26, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
This might be a more realistic way of proceeding. Landuse: meadow has 670,000 uses, covering both hay meadows and pasture. If we redefine pasture outside the meadow tag, that will invalidate a huge number of entries. Probably better to use sub-tags.
Eadgar (talk) 22:41, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
So it seems there is some opposition against my landuse=pasture proposal, but many of you would agree with landuse=meadow in combination with meadow=pasture. To be more precise: landuse=meadow defines an area of grassland used for agriculture. By default it is mowed, but it can also be used in other ways. One of these ways is defined by meadow=pasture. If most of you agree with this, we can proceed to the voting step, for the meadow=pasture subtag, NOT for landuse=pasture, as there seems to be no support for this. --Segatus (talk) 18:03, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

Grazing land, Pastureland

This proposal for pasture seems to be using a very narrow definition. The Oxford dictionary defines pasture as land covered with grass or other low plants suitable for grazing. No concept of a relatively small fenced grass area. The emphasis on suitable (or used for grazing) would seem the key part for an OSM landuse=pasture tag (as opposed to land cover). In the U.S. the terms pastureland and grazing land may be used interchangeably. Much of this land in the Western U.S. is characterized by sagebrush cover mixed with grasses or other forage or even light forestland. In the rest of the U.S., pastureland is characterized more by grasses, but still includes scrub and lightly forested areas. The area primarily used as pastureland in the Western U.S. is about 3 times the total land area of Germany. I have been using landuse=pasture for smaller areas (up to a few sq km) found in the area (central northern El Paso County, Colorado) I am concentrating on, but will be working up to BLM grazing lands covering thousands of sq km within a single plot as I move to other areas in the county. I would expect this proposal to address that usage, either directly within the definition of pasture, or support for an alternate tag that does. I do agree separation of (primary) land use for grazing as opposed to raising a crop is useful.--CS Mur (talk) 15:57, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

Fenced=yes can be an additional tag. Although in Germany pastures are usually fenced, landuse=pasture does not necessarily imply fenced=yes. --Segatus (talk) 17:42, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
CS Mur, I think the land you're talking about is what is generally known as rangeland, a separate category from pastureland. For instance, see:
The problem is, the wider definition of pasture essentially means all land used for grazing, and it would be too vague to have a single tag covering all of these different forms of land use. One tag would also contradict the existing semantic distinction we have between the 'landuse' and 'natural' keys, the former heavily managed human landscape, and the latter of a more natural origin, i.e. the distinction we have between natural:wood and landuse:forest. Also, we already have grazing land classified under the natural tag, see natural:heath. I think the tag you should be looking for in the Western US is the existing natural:grassland plus perhaps another natural:shrubland, as per the definitions here:
I support the more narrow definition, in the sense of an area which is used to produce forage crops, heavily managed (seeded, enclosed, and generally improved with fertilizer), and generally close-cropped.
Eadgar (talk) 18:22, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
Key landuse does not prohibit anyone grom adding key natural; the example with landuse=forest vs. natural=wood is a misfortunate mixup from the past, which nobody is likely to be able to "fix": they were used together, or just the natural=wood when the lsnd was not "used for timber". Sure, sometimes the landuse implies something natural specific enough, that few bother tagging what kind of naturally occurring stuff - like, grasses - mostly occupies that landuse area. A plot used for timber can be with natural=scrub for some years after a clear cut harvest.
In my opinion manu pastures are landuse=farm + natural=grassland - yet others are natural=grassland within a bigger landuse=residential, or partly ovrrlapping such area, in case of a private stable (with residence) and it's pasture. Alv (talk) 22:33, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
I concede the point about natural and landuse, on reflection I agree that it's not a solid distinction.
I don't quite follow the wider point, there's not really anything that separates a paddock from the sort of pasture I'm talking about, they're the same class of land, just varying at to whether horses are grazed, or sheep, or cattle. Landuse:farm + natural:grassland is very non-specific, and might just as well cover hay meadow and silage, as well as pasture, which are all very different sorts of landuse. Also, there's no need for all agricultural land to fall under landuse:farm, just as we already have landuse:meadow, landuse:orchard and landuse:vineyard.
Eadgar (talk) 23:55, 5 July 2013 (UTC)

Mailing List Discussion

Here are some suggestions and questions raised in the mailing list up to now:

> To refine mowing & grazing, it would be better to separate the two. Whatever tagging form it take, something like mow=yes/no , graze=yes/no

Well it's always the question, how much detail do you want to put in the map? I would say, for what is clearly for grazing, landuse=pasture would be enough. For pastures also sometimes mowed, I would agree with "landuse=pasture mow=yes".

> A protected meadow (grazing prohibited) is a more clear distinction.

That would be a candidate for "landuse=meadow graze=no" to make it clear.

> Are you sure it is a meadow and not "unimproved pasture"?

For those who just want to say "that's grassland", something like landuse=meadow would suffice. Those who can distinguish between mowed or grazed can write landuse=meadow or landuse=pasture. Those who can tell if a pasture has been improved or not, can additionally write improved=yes/no. I myself didn't know about that distinction until Dudley Ibbett wrote about it; then I ixquicked and found which tells that: "Improved pastures have been reseeded, fertilized or fenced to improve productivity and utilization." In this sense almost all pastures I know are improved, because they are at least fenced. But in other parts of the world, this may be different.

> But what do you hope to represent in OSM? What it looks like? The conservation status? The permission to enter?

As for me, my main concern is that someone with an OSM-based map (on paper or electronic on a GPS gadget, smartphone, tablet or so) should be able to tell where they are. So it's "What it looks like". But additional information like "access=*" can be provided. --Segatus (talk) 07:18, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

wood pasture

Horseriders are represented well in OSM. Maybe that's the kind of people who believe that pastures can easiliy be distinguished from other meadows. Indeed, you certainly won't go wrong if you classify the green areas belonging to a horse farm as pastures. Horse farms are usually highly specialized in horses, so there's nothing else they can use those ereas for. When it comes to farms with cattle and pigs, things are not that easy. The farmers need hay too, and they often rotate the use of their areas. They let their cows graze in one area, and use the other for mowing. And some months later or the next year they are switching. In central Europe, they need to mow every now end then, because otherwise some thorny bushes that the cattle don't eat would start growing, and the meadow would turn into a heath.

In the past, farmers in central Europe were even more imaginative. They let the cattle and pigs graze in the woods. This is called wood pasture. This type of pasture has come out of use in central Europe, but I am pretty sure that it is still practised in other parts of the world.

Generally, any area with herbaceous plants can be used as pasture.

This makes an independant key desirable. E.g.:

  • landuse=meadow + pasture=yes
  • landuse=forest + pasture=yes for wood pasture
  • natural=heath + pasture=yes for e.g. some dry heaths which are preserved by sheep-run

Maybe pasture=<type of animal> would be even more convenient, because species=* does not allow for values like "bull". But that's another topic. --Fkv 14:46, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

which animals

I can hardly imagine a practical use for the distinction whether an area is grazed or not. This can never be statistically used, because it will always be far from complete, let alone correct. Much more interesting for users is what kind of animals they are about to come across. If there are horses, chances are that hikers are not welcome inside the meadow. If there are bulls, crossing the area may be dangerous. If there are cows, you are likely to step into a cow pie. If there are highland cattle, you shouldn't enter with a dog.

There's species=*, but for the race you need either an additional tag or taxon=*.
How to tag the sex (for bulls!) ? Maybe sex=* oder gender=* ? --Fkv 15:19, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

Meadows and pastures can look quite different, so the distinction can be useful for the hiker, see the photos in the proposal. I do agree that it can also be useful to specify the animals that usually graze there. I know a place where an official hiking route is led over a pasture (of peaceful cows). --Segatus (talk) 11:57, 7 July 2013 (UTC)