The University of Arizona

Effects of management on species dynamics of Canadian aspen parkland pastures.

J. Waddington, D.H. McCartney, L.P. Lefkovitch

Abstract


The effects of grazing, fertilizing, and seeding on persistence of herbaceous species was monitored by point quadrat about every second year from 1975 to 1989 in a low-fertility pasture in the aspen parkland vegetation zone of east-central Saskatchewan, Canada. Ground cover response to continuous grazing was contrasted with that of 4- and 6-paddock rotationally-grazed areas fertilized in the fall of every other year with 90 kg N, 45 kg P2O5, 10 kg S ha-1. The original vegetation in 2 paddocks of the 6-paddock system was replaced with Russian wildrye (Psathyrostachys juncea (Fisch.) Nevski) in 1976, and in 1 of the other 4 paddocks in turn with smooth brome (Bromus inermis Leyss.)-alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) in 1979 and 1981, crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum (L.) Gaertn.) in 1983, and a meadow brome (Bromus riparius Rehm.)-alfalfa mix in 1985. Initially, smooth brome and creeping red fescue (Festuca rubra L.) dominated the vegetation with ground cover estimates of 10-20% and 40-60%, respectively. Alfalfa ground cover was less than 1%. With the changes in management, Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) replaced creeping red fescue. Alfalfa increased until 1980 and then declined to its original level, apparently in response to precipitation trends. Russian wildrye almost died out and was replaced by brome and Kentucky bluegrass. Reseeding with smooth bromegrass-alfalfa did not consistently increase brome ground cover beyond that obtained by rotational grazing and fertilization, and increased alfalfa only temporarily. Cultivation during the summer before spring seeding resulted in partial recovery of the old vegetation and invasion by Kentucky blue-grass. Total ground cover varied from year to year in response to spring precipitation. Forbs usually increased after reseeding, but declined to their original levels within 5 years.

Keywords


change;Medicago sativa;Bromus inermis;Festuca rubra;grassland improvement;sown grasslands;ground cover;Poa pratensis;continuous grazing;Saskatchewan;rain;pastures;vegetation;forbs;rotational grazing;botanical composition

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