The University of Arizona

Grazing impacts on selected soil parameters under short-term forage sequences.

E. Mapfumo, D.S. Chanasyk, V.S. Baron, M.A. Naeth


Long-term cultivation is known to change soil physical and chemical properties, but little is known about whether short-term agricultural practices, such as rotational grazing, can initiate such changes. This study investigated the impacts of 3 grazing intensities (heavy, medium, and light) and 4 forages on selected soil physical and chemical parameters of a Typic Haplustoll at Lacombe, Alberta. Measurements were conducted on soil samples collected at the beginning (1993) and the end (1996) of the study. Two perennial forages, smooth bromegrass (Bromus inermis cv. 'Carlton') and meadow bromegrass (Bromus riparius cv. 'Paddock'), and 2 annuals, a mixture of triticale (X Triticosecale Wittmack cv. 'Pika') and barley (Hordeum vulgare L. cv. 'AC Lacombe') and triticale alone were used for the study. Grazing intensity or forage species did not affect carbon-to-nitrogen ratio. Grazing intensity influenced changes in available water holding capacity for the 0-5 cm interval, soil nitrogen for the 30-45 cm interval, soil pH for the 5-15 cm interval and electrical conductivity for all depth intervals except for the 0-5 cm interval (P less than or equal to 0.05). Forage species affected changes in soil carbon in the 0-5 cm interval, soil pH between 0 and 15 cm, and electrical conductivity between 5 and 45 cm (P less than or equal to 0.05). Soil electrical conductivities for all grazing levels and forage treatments were within the range (i.e. 0-2 dS m-1) considered to have negligible effects on plant growth. The minimal effects of grazing and plant species on soil parameters in this study may have been due to the resilient intrinsic properties of the soil and/or the short study length.



Hordeum vulgare;carbon;water holding capacity;Bromus inermis;Bromus riparius;triticale;soil properties;soil depth;electrical conductivity;sown grasslands;mineral content;soil pH;soil test values;Alberta;potassium;rotational grazing;grazing intensity;nitrogen content;botanical composition;beef cattle

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