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A comparison between continuous and controlled grazing on a red duplex soil. I. Effects on soil physical characteristics

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Proffitt, A.P.B., Bendotti, S. and McGarry, D. (1995) A comparison between continuous and controlled grazing on a red duplex soil. I. Effects on soil physical characteristics. Soil and Tillage Research, 35 (4). pp. 199-210. ISSN 0167-1987

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Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/0167-1987(95)00486-6


The effect of sheep trampling and grazing management practice on soil physical characteristics was examined over one pasture season. The soil studied was a fragile sandy clay loam (red duplex soil) located in a dryland agricultural area (307 mm average annual rainfall) of Western Australia. The pasture was predominantly Serena medic (Medicago polymorpha). The three grazing management practices investigated were: (i) traditional set-stocking (where sheep were grazed continuously for 17 weeks, beginning soon after the start of the early winter rains); (ii) controlled grazing (where sheep were temporarily removed from the enclosure when the topsoil was close to its plastic limit); (iii) no grazing (where the pasture was mown to simulate grazing without trampling). Topsoil structure was assessed in several ways: dry bulk density, infiltration rate and tensile strength measurements, and image analysis of resin-impregnated soil blocks. At the end of the grazing period, all soil structure attributes measured showed that topsoil structure under the controlled grazing practice was not only superior to that found under the traditional set-stocking practice, but similar to that found in the ungrazed treatment. Soil remoulding appeared to be a significant process contributing to the deterioration in topsoil structure. The plastic limit was used diagnostically and found to be an important soil property which should be routinely determined in order to aid management decisions. Continuous (or set-stocking) grazing practices in the pasture phase of wheat (Triticum aestivum): pasture rotations can exacerbate the susceptibility of red duplex soils to structure deterioration and hardsetting. However, the degree of structure deterioration inflicted by stock can be minimised by removing stock for brief periods when the soil is close to its plastic limit.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Alfisol; degradationl grazing management; pasture; soil structure; trampling
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Soils. Soil science > Soil and crops. Soil-plant relationships. Soil productivity
Animal culture > Rangelands. Range management. Grazing
Live Archive:19 Apr 2024 03:30
Last Modified:19 Apr 2024 03:30

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