Submitted to: Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 4, 2002
Publication Date: February 4, 2002
Citation: Stuedemann, J.A., Franzluebbers, A.J., Seman, D.H. 2002. The role of animal and pasture management in carbon sequestration. Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists Proceedings. Technical Abstract: Pasture management is designed for the production of forage for harvest primarily by grazing. It often includes introduced plant species, but may include native species as well. Pastureland is typically managed more intensively with more production inputs than rangeland, which is managed as a natural ecosystem. Pastureland covers approximately 51 Mha in the U.S. with most of it in the humid east. Comparatively little research has been devoted to the effect of specific pasture grazing management practices on soil organic carbon (SOC). Pastureland management strategies include animal, plant and soil factors all of which may influence relative rates of C inputs and outputs. For example, a plant factor in tall fescue pastures could be the presence of the fungal endophyte (E), Neotyphodium coenophialum. Tall fescue with low-E infection had 29.1 MT SOC/ha in the upper 15 cm of soil compared to 31.2 MT SOC/ha with high-E infection. Lower potential soil microbial activity and a change in soil microbial community structure accompanied the greater soil carbon levels in the high-E pastures. We studied restoring degraded cropland by manipulating animal, plant and soil factors on Coastal bermudagrass. Treatments included three N sources, i.e., inorganic fertilizer, broiler litter, and legume N plus inorganic N, with four harvest strategies, i.e., unharvested, grazed with low-forage mass (2.0 Mg/ha), grazed with high-forage mass (4.0 Mg/ha), and harvested as hay. After five years of grazing, results revealed that for each 100 animal days of grazing there was a 65 kg/ha increase in SOC. In contrast, for each 100 kg of animal gain there was a 106 kg/ha increase in SOC. Cattle and pasture management can have large impacts on sequestering of carbon.