The University of Arizona

Influence of pasture management on soil biological quality.

M.R. Banerjee, D.L. Burton, W.P. McCaughey, C.A. Grant


The long-term sustainability of pasture management systems, whether related to structural stability or nutrient dynamics, is dependent upon maintaining soil biological properties. This study investigates the extent to which the microbiological and biochemical properties of soil can change with season and pasture management system, including their likely value as indicators of soil quality. The experiment was conducted on a 30-ha pasture near Brandon, Manitoba. Seasonal fluctuations were observed in the soil microbial and biochemical properties. In general, these fluctuations were mainly independent of the small variations in soil organic matter content but were more closely related to soil water content. The data also suggests an impact of stocking rate and grazing system on soil microbial biomass C and on N mineralization potential. However, because duration of the investigation, limited number of replications and the high soil variability encountered, it is not yet possible to recommend any particular grazing system and/or stocking rate favorable for the maintenance of soil biological quality. The trends suggest that light, continuous grazing systems had the largest microbial biomass and nutrient mineralizing activity.



arylsulfatase;alkaline phosphatase;acid phosphatase;microorganisms;Manitoba;livestock numbers;carbon;enzyme activity;sown grasslands;continuous grazing;stocking rate;rotational grazing;nitrogen content;biomass;soil water

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