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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Management Practices to Mitigate Global Climate Change, Enhance Bio-Energy Production, Increase Soil-C Stocks & Sustain Soil Productivity...

Location: Soil Plant Nutrient Research (SPNR)

Title: Short-term effects of grazing intensity and nitrogen fertilization on soil organic carbon pools under perennial grass pastures in the Southeastern USA

Authors
item Silveira, Maria -
item Liu, Kesi -
item Sollenberger, Lynn -
item Follett, Ronald
item Vendramini, Joao -

Submitted to: Journal of Soil Biology and Biochemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 5, 2012
Publication Date: November 27, 2012
Citation: Silveira, M., Liu, K., Sollenberger, L., Follett, R.F., Vendramini, J. 2012. Short-term effects of grazing intensity and nitrogen fertilization on soil organic carbon pools under perennial grass pastures in the Southeastern USA . Journal of Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 58:(2013)42-49.

Interpretive Summary: Pasture management can have important implications on the amounts and long-term stability of soil organic carbon (SOC). We investigated the short-term impacts of grazing intensity and nitrogen (N) fertilization levels on C dynamics into the various SOC pools in rotationally stocked ‘Tifton 85’ bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.) pastures. Treatments consisted of three grazing intensities (based on target postgraze stubble heights of 8, 16, and 24 cm) and three levels of N fertilization (50,150, and 250 kg N ac1 yr1). Soil samples (0- to 20-cm depth) were taken prior to imposing treatments and at the end of the 2-yr study. Grazing intensity and N levels had no effect on bulk SOC and N concentration and content. Greater stubble height and rate of N fertilizer resulted in a linear increase in particulate organic carbon (POC) and C and N concentration in the <53-mm particle-size fraction. Grazing intensity and N fertilization showed significant effects on d13C values and the relative amounts of C3-C vs. C4-C. The d13C data indicated that readily decomposable C components (C4-derived C) were lost in response to more intensive grazing (stubble height of 8 cm). Results demonstrated that POC and C, associated with <53 µm particle-size fraction, were sensitive indicators of short-term impacts of pasture management strategies on SOC. Further studies are warranted to examine the long-term impacts of grassland management on SOC pools in sandy soils of subtropical regions.

Technical Abstract: Pasture management can have important implications on the amounts and long-term stability of soil organic carbon (SOC). We investigated the short-term impacts of grazing intensity and nitrogen (N) fertilization levels on C dynamics into the various SOC pools in rotationally stocked ‘Tifton 85’ bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.) pastures. Treatments consisted of three grazing intensities (based on target postgraze stubble heights of 8, 16, and 24 cm) and three levels of N fertilization (50,150, and 250 kg N ac1 yr1). Soil samples (0- to 20-cm depth) were taken prior to imposing treatments and at the end of the 2-yr study. Grazing intensity and N levels had no effect on bulk SOC and N concentration and content. Greater stubble height and rate of N fertilizer resulted in a linear increase in particulate organic carbon (POC) and C and N concentration in the <53-mm particle-size fraction. Grazing intensity and N fertilization showed significant effects on d13C values and the relative amounts of C3-C vs. C4-C. The d13C data indicated that readily decomposable C components (C4-derived C) were lost in response to more intensive grazing (stubble height of 8 cm). Results demonstrated that POC and C, associated with <53 µm particle-size fraction, were sensitive indicators of short-term impacts of pasture management strategies on SOC. Further studies are warranted to examine the long-term impacts of grassland management on SOC pools in sandy soils of subtropical regions.

Last Modified: 11/27/2014
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