Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation Society
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 30, 1999
Publication Date: January 1, 2001
Citation: WIENHOLD, B.J., HENDRICKSON, J.R., KARN, J.F. PASTURE MANAGEMENT INFLUENCES ON SOIL QUALITY ATTRIBUTES IN THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS. JOURNAL OF SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION SOCIETY. 56:27-31. 2001. Interpretive Summary: Soil quality was assessed in three pastures and an ungrazed exclosure to determine the effect of grazing management on the soil resource. Grazing is an important component of many agricultural operations in the Northern Great Plains. Sustainable management practices need to be identified for use in these operations. A combination of plant, animal, and soil measures sallowed for a more complete assessment of management effects on ecosystem functions. Moderate grazing of native grasslands and fertilization of crested wheatgrass pasture appear to be viable management options for this region. Soil quality assessment should be included in evaluation of management practices.
Technical Abstract: The effect of pasture management practices on soil quality is largely unknown. Several physical, chemical, and biological soil quality attributes were compared for soil from a native vegetation exclosure, a moderately grazed native vegetation pasture stocked at 2.6 ha/steer, a heavily grazed native vegetation pasture stocked at 0.9 ha/steer, and a fertilized crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum L. Gaertn.) pasture stocked at 0.4 ha/steer near Mandan, ND. The three native vegetation pastures were established in 1916 and the crested wheatgrass pasture was seeded in 1932. Soil quality attributes varied in sensitivity to the management practices. When combined with vegetation measures and animal production, soil quality attributes suggest that moderate grazing and fertilization of crested wheatgrass are viable management options that maintain soil functions while providing goods and services needed by society. Range and pasture assessment should include analysis of soil quality attributes to more completely determine management affects on ecosystem functions.