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1DOUBLE-SAMPLING METHOD

2H. G. WILM, DAVID P. COSTELLO, AND G. ]~. KLIPPLE

duction and utilization, one of the most difficult problems is an

accurate appraisal of the single factor of greatest importance, v/z., the

volumeof forage itself. For a reliable picture of .these effects it is

necessary to obtain accurate estimates of the actual amountof forage

produced or remaining after treatm6nt on each area subjected to

experimental control. This task is difficult simply because forage

varies considerably in the weight of plant material produced by each

species in a highly variable population.

Since all the forage cannot be harvested and weighed, it is necessary

to obtain a reasonable estimate of the true total weight by sampling.

Using some standard method, such as clipped plots, the. sampling

procedure is relatively simple in principle. It is only required to clip

enough plots, distributed over the pasture by some efficient scheme

of randomization, to provide an average forage weight which is ac-

curate within prescribed limits. The numberof clipped plots necessary

to provide a re]iable mean, however, is generally large. Beruldsen and

Morgan (I)a found that e S independent observations were a minimum

number per .sample for acceptable accuracy under their Australian

pasture conditions. Davies (4), who also worked in Australia, con-

cluded that the sampling errors of small samples are of considerable

magnitude. Ellenberger (S) and his associates in Vermont observed

that the weight of forage clipped from small plots varied greatly be-

tween pastures and from place to-place within pastures. Robinson,

Pierre, and Ackerman(7) used nine cages per pasture to protect plots

to be’ clipped and found the sampling errors of the means of these

nine. observations too large for dependable interpretation of results.

In actual practice, therefore, the sampling process is not an e.asy

task, particularly when field observations have to be taken within a

short period of time. Ordinarily, data on forage production, for ex-

ample, must be obtained within the space of a week or two; and data

on residual forage on summerrange land must be obtained after the

]ivestock have been removed and before autumn snows make the

sampling task impossible.

In experiments on summer ranges we have found it difficult to

reconcile these requirements and the limitations of available funds

and personnel with the demands imposed by a highly variable popula-

tion of forage. The number of plots which could be clipped simply did

not provide sufficiently reliable information; observed differences

amongpasture averages could be at.tributed to little more than the

chance variation contained in sampling errors. In such a stalemate we

1Contribution from the Rocky Mountain Foregt and Range Experiment Sta-

tion, Forest Serv.ice, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, maintained in cooperation with

Colorado State College at Fort Collins, Colo. Received for publication August I I,

I943-

~Silviculturist, Forest Ecologist, and Senior Clerk, respectively.

aFigures

3. in parenthesis refer to "Literature Cited." p. 2o

WILM~ ET AL. : ESTIMATING FORAGEYIELD

studies or to devise some short-cut method which would provide the

necessary information within the prescribed limits of time and funds.

l~or obvious reasons the second course was chosen, and it then be-

came necessary to select promising short-cut methods and test their

efficiency by actual field trial.

A PROPOSED SOLUTION

SHORT-CUT METHODS

After consideration of a number of methods for measuring various

factors which might be associated with forage weight, we finally

selected two short-cut methods as being the most likely to fit our

needs. One, the line-transect, has been used in various fields and was

adapted to forage measurements by Canfield (2, 3). The other, which

simply involves the estimation of forage weight on sample plots (5),

has been tried by a number of investigators.

If used without quantitative control, neither of these methodspro-

vides data on forage weight directly, and they are not capable of

rigorous test to determine the accuracy of information on forage ob-

tained by their use. By the clipping of forage on someof the estimated

plots and in a belt around some of the line transects, however, the

data obtained by these short-cut methods could be converted to

quantitative weight estimates. Both of the methods seemed to prom-

ise considerable reductions in field time requirements, and both ap-

peared simple and easy to apply. And’finally, quantitative estimates

of the error of forage weights calculated from the field data could be

obtained by double-sampling analysis.

As the name implies, double-sampling involves the sampling of any

population by two methods, one which yields data directly on any

desired factor such as forage weight, but is laborious and expensive

to use; and another (short’-cut) which yields data on some factor

which is highly correlated with the desired factor (8) and is much

cheaper to use. Use of any short-cut method in the sampling of forage

yield causes a loss in precision per plot, as it can provide only an

approximatipn of the actual weight of forage on each plot through a

regression of forage weight on the factor observed. Since this method

is cheaper to apply in the field, however, so many more sample

observations may be taken that a net gain in precision or efficiency

may result. The amount of gain, if any, depends on the relative cost

of double-sampling as compared to clipping, and on the relative

accuracy with which forage weight can be calculated from the re-

gression.

In field forage sampling a number of randomized observations is

taken by someshort-cut method, and in addition the forage is actually

clipped at a relatively small number of sampling points, taken at

random from the larger sample. Thus we have available two sets of

data, a large sample containing only observations taken by the short-

cut method, and, within the large sample, a small sample containing

i96 JOURNAL OF THE AMI~RICAN SOCIETY OF AGR~)NOMY

sampling points observed in the large sample.

Then, using only the small-sample data, a regression is calculated

to showthe relation of actual forage weight (Y) to the factor observed

by the short-cut method (X). In itself this regression adds nothing

to the information on forage weight provided by the small sample

alone. Wehave also, however, a relatively precise estimate of X,

provided by the mean of the large sample (including values for

derived from the small sample) ; and by solving the regression equa-

tion for the large-sample mean of X, a correspondingly more precise

estimate of average forage weight may be derived. Also, since both

the large and small samples were taken by randomization, an error

variance can be calculated for each portion of the regression equation;

and thence can be obtained the error of the estimated forage weight.

This method can be substantially refined by segregating the forage

into individual species or plant classes (groups of similar species), and

making a separate analysis for each. Estimated mean forage weight

can be calculated for each plant class from its ownregression equa-

tion, and the results summedto give the estimated weight of all

classes of forage on the pasture. The analytic procedures required

for obtaining the regression equations and calculating the error

variances of the resulting estimates and of their sums are nicely dis-

cussed by Schumacher and Chapman(8, chapters VIII and XI).

As indicated above, the efficiency of double-sampling is affected

by the relative cost of clipping as comparedto double-sampling, and

by the accuracy of the regression equation. Hence it may correctly be

reasoned that efficiency depends also on the numberof plots that are

clipped as compared to the total number of sample observations. If

too many plots are clipped, the cost of-sampling becomes unneces-

sarily high, while the use of too few clipped plots results in an un-

reliable regression equation. Thus, it is desirable to estimate the

proportion of clipped plots which may be expected to provide maxi-

mumprecision with minimumwork.

For a regression involving a single, independent variable, the

optimum proportion of the total number of plots to the number

clipped may be calculated if the following factors can be estimated

with reasonable precision, viz., the variance of estimate of the re-

gression equation (Vy.x); the regression coefficient (b); the variance

of X (VxL); the approximate costs of obtaining the values of X and

Y at each sarnpling point (Cx and %); and the cost of travel between

sampling points (cd, including setting up equipment at any new

point. Then the optimum ratio of the total number of observations

(nL) to the number of clipped plots (ns) may be estimated approxi-

mately from the equation

For this approximate calculation the travel cost per plot may be

taken as essentially constant with varying numbers of sample observa-

tions, within the limits imposed by a fixed total cost of sampling.

WILM, ET AL. : ESTIMATING FORAGEYIELD I97

DESCRIPTION OF EXPERIMENTS

In order to fit the studies of sampling methods into active range experiments

with maximumefficiency, we tried out the two methods at two different locations.

The line-transect trial was made in experimental pastures at the Manitou Experi-

mental Forest, in the headwaters of the South Platte River, while the efficiency

of weight estimates was tested in a study of the influence of gopher removal on

forage production, located on the Grand Mesa National Forest in western Colo-

rado. Thus, line transects and weight estimates could not be compared directly

with each other, but the efficiency of each method could be compared with that

obtained by clipping quadrats.

LINE-TRANSECT STUDY

Experimental area.--At the Manitou Experimental Forest six pastures, each

25o to 3oo acres in size, have been established to study the influence of three in-

tensities of grazing by cattle on forage production, beef yields, erosion, and in-

filtration.

The forage on these pastures is primarily a bunchgrass type existing as an

understory in an open ponderosa pine stand. Park-like areas from a few square

rods to several acres in extent are dominated by bunchgrasses. In areas occupied

by open stands of ponderosa pine the same species persist but in lighter density

than in the park-like areas. In spots where the canopy is dense, and directly be-

neath the pines, a few sedge plants are the only species present.

Field procedure.--In ascertaining forage production, a total of 36 plots was

sampled in each pasture. At each plot were measured the ground-level diameter

(to the nearest o.o~ foot) and the average height (to the nearest o.Io foot) of

portion of every plant which touched a 3o-foot cable stretched between two iron

stakes. These plants were classified as to whether grazed or ungrazed, and segre-

gated into four classes, v/z., tall bunchgrasses, short bunchgrasses, single-stemmed

and sod-forming grasses and grasslike plants, and weeds (forbs). Browse species

were ignored, as they form a minute part of the palatable forage in this cover type.

Six of thh 36 transects were selected at random for clipping. After the line-

transect data were obtained, the vegetation was clipped from a 6-inch by 3o-foot

belt transect surrounding the 3o-foot line-transect. The forage was sorted by

classes, air-dried, and then weighed to the nearest gram. In addition to these data,

each crew kept accurate notes on the amount of time consumed in clipping, tally-

ing, travel between plots, and handling the clipped forage.

WEIGHT-ESTIMATE STUDY

Experimental area.--The Grand Mesa experiment is factorial in design. Its

objective is to discover .the influence of grazing by cattle and gophers, separately

and together, on forage production and related factors. Sixteen I-acre areas have

been established, four in each of four locations or blocks. The four treatments,

cattle and gophers, cattle alone, gophers alone, and no grazing, have been assigned

at random to the 4 acres in each block.

The study area is on comparatively level to rolling land at an elevation of ap-

proximately lO,5OOfeet, where the vegetation consists of open grassland and sage-

brush interspersed with stands of Engelmann spruce. All observations were con-

fined to the park-like areas of sagebrush and grass-weed communities, since the

ground beneath the spruce trees is practically devoid of forage. Grasses constitute

approximately 2o% of the vegetal cover, varying from 8 to 3o%, depending

1.98 JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF AGRONOMY

largely on the intensity of use in the past by grazing animals. Weedsare abundant,

constituting from 55 to more than 90% of the cover. On approximately one half

of the study area sagebrush is the dominant plant, the understory consisting of

grasses and weeds.

Field procedure.--For sampling the forage, each I-acre area.was subdivided into

nine strata and two sample plots were assigned at random to each stratum. These

plots, each 12. 5 square feet in drea, provided the large sample. For the small

sample, five plots were drawn from the 18 plots in each acre.

Estimates of green forage weight were obtained by one man, who had previously

trained himself by estimating the forage 6n a number of plots and checking his

estimates by clipping and weighing the forage. In sampling the experimental plots,

each species was estimated separately; then the species estimates were combined

into three classes, grasses, weeds, and shrubs.

After the plots had been estimated on a single acre, a~lother worker clipped the

forage on the five plots forming the small sample, segregating it into the three

classes and weighing the clip in green condition. The estimator was then permitted

to compare his estimates with the actual green w.eights as a running control on

subsequent estimates. Finally, the clipped forage was air-dried and reweighed ~o

the nearest gram.

RESULTS

LINE-TRANSECT METHOD

In Table 1 are presented," together with their standard errors,

numerical estimates of the air-dry weight (in pounds per acre) of each

class of forage on the six pastures as calculated by the double-sampling

method. For simplicity and because they were similar in magnitude,

the separate pasture standard errors were pooled to provide a single

value for each forage class.

TABLE

I.--Average estimated forag~ weight in pounds per acre per pasture,

by forage classes.

Forage class

Pasture Total

No. forage

I II III IV

26.0 174.o 13. 48.3 262.2

9

44-9 167.6 16.4 57.0 285.9

36.6 112.2 14. 4o.6 2o4.I

718.1

42.9 I75.

5 46.6 283.1

50.3 162.9 23.5 37.1 273.8

5 270.9 1,562.5

Mean ................ 39.7 157.8 17.7 45.2 260.4

Standard error ......... 4-13.

4 4-24.0 4-4.6 =t=8.2 =1=29.o

the separate classes is not very precise, although the mean values per

pasture for total forage are considerably more accurate. These, in

fact, with a standard error of about i i%, may be considered for our

purposes to provide satisfactory information on the amount of forage

remaining on these pastures at the end of the grazing season.

WILM, ET AL. : ESTIMATING FORAGEYIELD I99

For example, the independent variable (summed diameter times

height) was well correlated with air-dry forage weight; only the short

bunchgrass and weed classes showed relatively poor correlation. In

the tall bunchgrass class, 78%of the variation in forage weight was

associated with the independent variable; corresponding figures for

short bunchgrass, single-stemmed grass, weeds, and total forage were

52, 77, 42, and 68%,respectively.

Also, in this study we found that the individual pasture regressions

were homogeneous, and that a single regression could be used with

equal accuracy for all six pastures. This fact contributed to the

efficiency of the double-sampling method, since the estimated forage

weights per pasture could be computedfrom a single regression based

on the 36 small-sample observations obtained in all six pastures

rather than from six relatively weak regressions based on only six

observations apiece. As a corollary of this fact, it turned out that we

employed almost the optimum number of clipped plots as compared

to the total numberin each pasture. As calculated by the equation on

page ~95, the optimumratio of the total number of observations to

the number of clipped plots was about L~3 to i.oo; and since the

regression was based on 35 observations, the 35 large-sample.observa-

tions per pasture gave an actual ratio of i.oo.

As another feature of the line-transect method, relative figures on

plant cover density and forage utilization could’be derived from the

large-sample data. In order to get similar figures from a sample

containing only clipped plots, we should have had to make separate

density estimates and segregate the clipped forage into grazed and

ungrazed plants. This process would have required at least 5 to

minutes additional time per plot.

Now,in examining the actual relative efficiency of double-sampling

as compared to clipping all plots, we can make comparisons based

either on field time requirements or on total time, depending on

whether or not field time limits the size of the sample. Considering

field time alone, 4 ~6 belt transects could have been ,clipped in the

time required for tallying 36 line transects and clipping six belts.

Comparing the resulting variances of mean values, the double-

sampling procedure provided an increase in information of about

~8%. If, on the other hand, the comparison is based on total time

expended, the double-sampling method provided only about

more information than clipping all plots. Actually, the office time

required for the rather complex double-sampling analysis largely

offset the savings in field time.

If we wish to apply these results to studies in other places, the

several components of field time becomeimportant in appraising the

relative economyof double-sampling. In our field samples the actual

tallying of line transects, including setting up and removingthe cable,

required I~.4 man-minutes per transect; clipping took up 3~.4 man-

minutes; and travel between plots, 22.2 man-minutes. If, in another

weighing forage, and travel between plots.

200 JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF AGRONOMY

procedure would be relatively more efficient because travel time

would be reduced. In the survey of large areas, on the other hand,

with plots relatively far apart or hard to locate, the advantage of

double-sampling with line transects might disappear entirely; travel

time would be so large that the additional cost of clipping all the

plots would form a very small part of the total field time.

WRIGHT-ESTIMATE METHOD

AS shown in Table 2, the forage on these 16 l-acre areas was esti-

mated with satisfactory precision. Of the three forage classes, only

browse showed poor results; and the sampling errors for total forage

are considerably smaller (in percentages of forage weights) than those

observed in the line-transect method. By itself this observation does

not favor weight estimates, however, as the sampling was consider-

ably more concentrated than in the Manitou experiment.

TABLE

2.--Average estimated forage weight per acre, by forage classes.

Forage classes

Acre desig- Total,

nation lbs.

Grasses, lbs. Weeds, lbs. Browse, ibs,

370±5 9Olq-86

I-B °5644-4 1,o9o-t-62

I924-2I 334±35

I-C 89-4-~3 5144-54 t54-4-39 756=k66

1354-23 8494-47 2754-73 ~,259-q-8~

I

723~4 764-22 9114-4o

~± 9

2-C 564- 6 6524-45 214-t

4 729+50

2-D x49±~8 919~33 54:t:I8 I~I224-40

3-B ~384-i.6 4614-43 414-16 64o=k59

3-C 95-4-I I 9oo~92 41±22 1,o36-+-1o

3

3-D 236-I-22 973=k8o 794-27 1,2884-98

4-B ~8q-~

7 549=k29 38-1-i2 7054-43

4-C ~58q-~ 6194-39 574-i7 834±49

4-D 1964-21 99o4-1o4 684-24 1,2534-I23

*Therlght-handfigure in each cell is thestandarderror of the averageforage weight,in pounds

per acre.

precision of regressions of air-dry forage weight on estimated green

weight. In genera], these correlations were somewhat better than the

line-transect results; 78% of the variation in the weight of total for-

age was associated with weight estimates, and corresponding data

for grasses, weeds, and browse were 79, 77, and 72%, respectively.

As-to relative time requirements, only 6.7 man-minutes per plot

were required for estimating green weights, as compared to 12.4 man-

minutes for tallying a line-transect; this considerably lower figure in

spite of the much heavier stands of forage on the Grand Mesa. Travel

WILM, ET AL. : ESTIMATING FORAGE YIELD 2OI

~cime was negligible on these small areas and was therefore included

in the other two components, while the actual clipping required 68.4

man-minutes per I2.S square-foot plot as compared to 32.4 man-

minutes per ~ 5 square-foot plot in the Manitou pastures.

As observed in the line-transect study, no significant differences

existed amongthe individual acre regressions. Therefore, it was pos-

sible to use a single regression (based on the pooled "within acre"

squares and products) for estimating the mean forage production on

each of the ~6 acres. Since, without previous experience, this fact

could not have been predicted beforehand, we used a rather inefficient

proportion of the total numberof plots per acre to the numberclipped

in each acre. As calculated by the equation on page 196, this ratio

should have been about 5.7 estimated plots for each clipped plot.

Although 18 plots were estimated and 5 of these plots were clipped

on each acre, we actually used a ratio of o.22 to 1.oo (that is, 18

estimated plots to 8o clipped plots in the regression) in estimating

the mean forage production per acre. The efficiency of double-

sampling would have been materially improved if only one or two

plots had been clipped on each acre and the time thus saved had been

used in estimating a larger numberof plots per acre.

Even with this relatively inefficient arrangement, double-sampling

with weight estimates provided a substantial increase in information

as comparedto clipping all plots. Onlyabout 6.8 plots could be clipped

in the field time required for double-sampling with 5 clipped and 18

estimated plots per acre. As a result, the latter methodprovided about

37%more information on total forage than that supplied by clipped

plots. Whenthe comparison is based on total time (field and office),

the gain in information dropped to about 14%. These gains are not

greatly different from the iine-transect results. If, however, only one

plot had been clipped on each acre and the surplus time used in

estimating about 4o additional plots per acre, the variance of the

calculated mean forage weight would have been reduced by about

one third, and the relative efficiency of double-sampling ~ould have

been correspondingly increased.

DISCUSSION

As a result of these analyses, we have a definite basis for quantita-

tive comparison of each double-sampling method with the cost of

clipping sample plots in our experiments, and a qualitative basis for

.comparing the two methods with each other.

As employed in these studies, both short-cut methods provided

a substantial saving in field time and some economyon the basis of

total time expended. The achievement of similar economies in other

studies would probably depend, however, on the relative amounts of

time required for clipping, traveling to and from the survey area and

between sample plots, and applying the short-cut method. In experi-

ments requiring intensive sampling by trained men, with sample

plots located close together, either of the double-sampling methods

maybe expected to provide substantial increases in efficiency as com-

pared to clipping all sample plots. In large-scale, extensive range

202 JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF AGRONOMY

of total cost; especially in surveys of remote mountainareas, involving

transportation by horse and repeated camps in relatively inaccessible

areas. Under such conditions it may frequently be found that the

cost of clipping all sample plots forms a small part of total costs, and

yields rich returns in the precision of survey information as compared

to the usual qualitative estimates of forage density and similar factors.

Under critical scrutiny the sampling of such relative factors, without

the quantitative check provided by double-sampling, tells the in-

vestigator only that one sample average is larger or smaller than an-

other. It fails to give him quantitative information on the actual

amounts of forage present on each sampled area and on the error of

each sample average in terms of forage weight.

In comparing the two double-sampling methods v~ith each other,

our only definite statement can be that they showed no substantiM

difference in efficiency as used in our studies. Weight estimates may,.

however, be judged superior to line transects, simply because they

required less time in the field and seemed to give at least equally

precise estimates of forage weight. Also, as we used it, the weight-

estimate methodsuffered from the use of an inefficient proportion of

the total number of observations per acre to the number used in the

sr~all-sample regression. With a more efficient design, this method

might have turned out to be decidedly superior to the line-transect

method.

In general, our feeling is that these studies have not solved the

problem of sampling range forage efficiently, although they have pro-

vided a step towardits solution. The principal difficulties still remain,

viz., forage is highly variable, with the result that adequate sampling

must still require a considerable expenditure of time.

SUMMAI~Y

Two double-sampling methods, using line-transects and forage

weightestimates,weretested to ascertaintheirrelative efficiency

in

estimatingthe amountof foragepresenton experimental areas,as

comparedto theclipping of vegetationon sampleplots.

Considering fieldworkalone,double-sampling withtheline-tran-

sectmethodprovided an increase in information of about~8~oas

compared withthe information whichcouldhavebeenobtainedby

clippingonly,duringthesameperiodof time.On thebasisof time

expendedin bothfieldandoffice,thedouble-sampling methodpro-

videdonly abouti~% moreinformation thancouldhavebeenob-

tainedby clippingalone.

The use of weightestimates in double-sampling providedabout

3 7~omoreinformation, thancouldbe obtained by straight clipping

inan equivalentamountoffieldtime.If fieldworkandoffice compila-

tionare bothconsidered the gainin information droppedto about

~4%.

Underourconditions

of intensive

samplingbothmethods provided

substantial

economies

in fieldtimeandsomesavingin totaltimeex-

pended.

In otherstudies,

however,thesesavings

wouldbe consider-

WILM, ET AL.: ESTIMATING FORAGE YIELD 203

as compared to the time requirements of clipping and double-samp-

ling. In large-scale extensive surveys, the clipping of all plots may

prove to be at least as efficient as any short-cut method.l