The University of Arizona

Influence of off-stream supplements on streambanks of riparian pastures.

M.L. McInnis, J. McIver


Accelerated erosion of streambanks in grazed riparian pastures is of concern to land managers. We tested the hypothesis that providing cattle free-choice off-stream water and trace mineralized salt would lessen negative impacts of grazing on cover and stability of streambanks compared to pastures lacking these amenities, and may therefore reduce the potential of accelerated erosion. The study was conducted on Milk Creek at the Hall Ranch Unit of the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center near Union, Ore. Three replications each of 3 grazing treatments were examined: (1) non-grazed control; (2) grazed with supplemental water and trace mineralized salt provided ("supplemented"); and (3) grazed with no supplemental water or salt ("nonsupplemented"). Each grazed pasture (approximately 12 ha) was stocked with cow-calf pairs for a mean stocking rate of 0.8 ha per AUM to achieve moderate grazing intensity of approximately 50% utilization of key forages. Pastures were grazed for 42 consecutive days during each of 2 years (1996-1997) beginning mid-July. Estimates of streambank cover ("covered" or "uncovered") and stability ("stable" or "unstable") were taken before (June) and after (September) grazing by examining 0.5 X 0.3 m plots placed on the greenline. Additionally, frequency of cattle hoof prints (number of plots with hoof prints/total number of plots) was measured as an indication of cattle presence in the greenline. Treatment effects were compared using one-way ANOVA. Streambank effects were consistent with observations of cattle distribution, with 26% of the streambank in supplemented pastures showing cattle presence (hoof prints), versus 31% for non-supplemented pastures. Off-stream water and salt attracted cattle into the uplands enough to significantly (p less than or equal to 0.05) reduce development of uncovered and unstable streambanks from 9% in non-supplemented pastures to 3% in supplemented pastures. An "erosion index" indicated no significant (p < 0.05) difference in potential accelerated streambank erosion between supplemented and non-supplemented pastures.



riverbank protection;soil stability;riparian grasslands;water erosion;water availability;animal behavior;dietary mineral supplements;Oregon;grazing intensity;beef cattle

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