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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: NEW MONITORING TECHNOLOGIES FOR IMPROVING RANGELAND MANAGEMENT Title: Hydrological effects of sheep bedding on subalpine range.

Authors
item Moffet, Corey
item Leytem, April
item Pierson, Frederick

Submitted to: Range Management Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: December 7, 2010
Publication Date: February 7, 2010
Repository URL: http://https://srm.conference-services.net/reports/template/onetextabstract.xml?xsl=template/onetextabstract.xsl&conferenceID=1756&abstractID=344859
Citation: Moffet, C.A., Leytem, A.B., Pierson Jr, F.B. 2010. Hydrological effects of sheep bedding on subalpine range. Proceedings of the 63rd Annual Meeting of the Society Range Management, February 7-11, 2010, Denver, Colorado. P A-68.

Interpretive Summary: Sheep concentrate on bedgrounds at night which results in disproportionate manure, and thus nutrient, deposition and soil disturbance. This could potentially cause off-site stream water quality problems. Runoff was collected from simulated rainfall on bedgrounds that had been recently bedded, areas within bedgrounds that were protected from bedding, and adjacent off-bedground area. Infiltration rate was greatest for the off-bedground treatment. Erosion and nutrient export was similar between the off-bedground and unbedded, on-bedground areas, but was greatest for the bedded, on-bedground treatment. On subalpine rangelands, only recently bedded bedgrounds will have hydrologic function that is significantly different from off-bedground areas. Considering the low risk of runoff, sediment, and nutrient yield, the small area involved in bedgrounds, and the position of bedgrounds on the landscape, it is unlikely that sheep bedding activities will cause off-site effects on stream water quality in rangeland watersheds.

Technical Abstract: Sheep concentrate on bedgrounds at night which results in disproportionate manure, and thus nutrient, deposition and soil disturbance. The study objective was to determine the immediate and long-term effects of sheep bedding on runoff and runoff-water quality. Rainfall was simulated at 3 sites in 2 years. Within each site and year, 4 off-bedground plots (0.5 m2) and 8 on-bedground plots were selected. A random half of on-bedground plots were protected from sheep disturbance (i.e., unbedded). Rainfall was simulated at 160 mm/hr for 30 min. Runoff was collected every minute for infiltration and erosion. Water samples were collected at 3 intervals for N and P analysis. Final infiltration rate for all treatments exceeded 93 mm/hr, which is high, but mean off-bedground infiltration rate was greatest at 152 mm/hr. Mean erosion rates for all treatments were less than 1.4 Mg/ha, but off-bedground (0.03 Mg/ha) and on-bedground, unbedded (0.07 Mg/ha) treatment erosion rates were significantly less. Mean total-N and total-P export for all treatments were less than 12.0 kg-N/ha and 3.8 kg-P/ha, but export from off-bedground (0.4 kg-N/ha and 0.1 kg-P/ha) and on-bedground, unbedded (0.8 kg-N/ha and 0.3 kg-P/ha) treatments were significantly less. On subalpine rangelands, only recently bedded bedgrounds will have hydrologic function that is significantly different from off-bedground areas. Considering the low risk of runoff, sediment, and nutrient yield, the small area involved in bedgrounds, and the position of bedgrounds on the landscape, it is unlikely that sheep bedding activities will cause off-site effects on stream water quality in rangeland watersheds.

Last Modified: 12/19/2014
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