The University of Arizona

A comparison of soil chemical characteristics in modified rangeland communities.

J.F. Dormaar, W.D. Willms


The effects of converting native prairie to simplified agronomic communities on primary production and soil quality are expected to differ over the short-term. A study was initiated at 4 locations: a Mixed Prairie with Stipa comata Trin. &Rupr. dominant in the Brown Soil Zone (1994), a Mixed Prairie with S. comata and S. viridula Trin. dominant in the Dark Brown Soil Zone (1993), and 2 in the Fescue Prairie with Festuca campestris Rydb. dominant in the Black Soil Zone (1993). At each of the 4 sites, 5 treatments representing common production systems were seeded as monocultures [2 grass species, alfalfa (Medicago sativa L. 'Beaver'), and 2 spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L. 'Katepwa) seeded as either continuous or as wheat-fallow], and 1 treatment consisting of abandoned cultivation were compared with a native community in a randomized complete block design with 4 replicates. One site in the Black Soil Zone was an overgrazed prairie (2.4 animal unit month ha-1 since 1949) and a second was mostly ungrazed for the previous 50 years with occasional light fall-grazing. Soils of the modified communities were different (P < 0.05) than of the native community with respect to percent carbon and nitrogen, concentration of monosaccharides, and concentration of most phosphorus constituents. Modifying the community through cultivation and seeding usually caused a reduction in the measured variable except for NaHCO3 inorganic phosphorus that increased. Cultivation rather than the plants of the new community was believed responsible for most of the observed changes in C, N, and various P fractions and the loss of water-stable aggregates remaining on the 2.0 and 1.0 mm sieves. Although the contribution of seeded species on the chemical and physical characteristics would not have been significantly expressed in 2 to 3 years and many more years would be required to reach a steady state, monosaccharide distribution had nevertheless started to shift to one that was plant-affected.



soil stabilization;Linum;Penstemon;Sanguisorba minor;penstemon palmeri;linum lewisii;coversoil;potassium fertilizers;mine spoil;Bromus inermis;phosphorus fertilizers;soil;water potential;seed banks;Purshia tridentata;Chrysothamnus nauseosus;Atriplex canescens;mortality;seedlings;slope;nitrogen fertilizers;Artemisia tridentata;land restoration;application rate;Nevada

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