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Grazing management for soil carbon in Australia: A review

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McDonald, S. E., Badgery, W., Clarendon, S., Orgill, S., Sinclair, K., Meyer, R., Butchart, D. B., Eckard, R., Rowlings, D., Grace, P., Doran-Browne, N., Harden, S., Macdonald, A., Wellington, M., Pachas, N. A., Eisner, R., Amidy, M. and Harrison, M. T. (2023) Grazing management for soil carbon in Australia: A review. Journal of Environmental Management, 347 . p. 119146. ISSN 0301-4797


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2023.119146

Publisher URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479723019345


The livestock industry accounts for a considerable proportion of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, and in response, the Australian red meat industry has committed to an aspirational target of net-zero emissions by 2030. Increasing soil carbon storage in grazing lands has been identified as one method to help achieve this, while also potentially improving production and provision of other ecosystem services. This review examined the effects of grazing management on soil carbon and factors that drive soil carbon sequestration in Australia. A systematic literature search and meta-analysis was used to compare effects of stocking intensity (stocking rate or utilisation) and stocking method (i.e, continuous, rotational or seasonal grazing systems) on soil organic carbon, pasture herbage mass, plant growth and ground cover. Impacts on below ground biomass, soil nitrogen and soil structure are also discussed. Overall, no significant impact of stocking intensity or method on soil carbon sequestration in Australia was found, although lower stocking intensity and incorporating periods of rest into grazing systems (rotational grazing) had positive effects on herbage mass and ground cover compared with higher stocking intensity or continuous grazing. Minimal impact of grazing management on pasture growth rate and below-ground biomass has been reported in Australia. However, these factors improved with grazing intensity or rotational grazing in some circumstances. While there is a lack of evidence in Australia that grazing management directly increases soil carbon, this meta-analysis indicated that grazing management practices have potential to benefit the drivers of soil carbon sequestration by increasing above and below-ground plant production, maintaining a higher residual biomass, and promoting productive perennial pasture species. Specific recommendations for future research and management are provided in the paper.

Item Type:Article
Corporate Creators:Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland
Business groups:Horticulture and Forestry Science
Keywords:Soil organic carbon Biomass Production Livestock Grazing intensity Grazing strategy Sequestration Carbon neutral
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural ecology (General)
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agriculture and the environment
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural conservation
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Conservation of natural resources
Animal culture > Cattle
Animal culture > Rangelands. Range management. Grazing
Animal culture > Feeds and feeding. Animal nutrition
Agriculture > By region or country > Australia
Live Archive:08 Apr 2024 02:31
Last Modified:08 Apr 2024 02:31

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