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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Regrowth and Production of Herbaceous Riparian Vegetation Following Defoliation

Authors
item Boyd, Chad
item Svejcar, Anthony

Submitted to: Journal of Range Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 5, 2003
Publication Date: September 1, 2004
Citation: Boyd, C.S., Svejcar, A.J. 2004. Regrowth and production of herbaceous riparian vegetation following defoliation. Journal of Range Management. 57(5):448-454.

Interpretive Summary: Stubble height regulations are frequently used to manage livestock grazing of herbaceous riparian vegetation. The objective of this study was to determine the impact of stubble height, time of clipping and soil water status on production and regrowth of herbaceous riparian vegetation. We used a randomized block design with 4 study sites on each of 3 first order streams in northern Harney County, Oregon. In June and July of 2000-2003, 40 x 50 cm experimental plots were clipped to stubble heights of 5.1 (2 inch), 10.2 (4 inch), or 15.2 cm (6 inch), and paired control plots were left unclipped. Complete treatment sets were located adjacent to the stream and 4 m from the stream at each site. All plots were clipped to 1 cm in October and regrowth was calculated by comparing clipped and control plots. Water table depth was measured weekly using PVC wells. Result indicate that height regrowth was associated positively with stubble height and was less with July compared to June clipping. Weight regrowth was also positively related to stubble height and decreased with July compared to June clipping whereas annual aboveground production increased with July clipping. Annual production values for clipped plots were higher than for unclipped plots, indicating compensatory production in response to defoliation. Plots distant from the stream had less water availability, but regrowth and production were not strongly influenced by distance from active stream channel. Timing and intensity of defoliation were reliable predictors of regrowth and production performance. Most clipping height x time combinations produced end of season heights sufficient to meet current federal stubble height requirements (i.e., 10 - 15 cm). Our results should provide insight on the timing and intensity of defoliation that will allow for adequate regrowth to meet different management objectives. However, other factors such as stream channel morphology, animal selectivity, and annual weather variation will need to be considered.

Technical Abstract: Stubble height regulations are frequently used to manage livestock grazing of herbaceous riparian vegetation. The objective of this study was to determine the impact of stubble height, time of clipping and soil water status on production and regrowth of herbaceous riparian vegetation. We used a randomized block design with 4 study sites on each of 3 first order streams in northern Harney County, Oregon. In June and July of 2000-2003, 40 x 50 cm experimental plots were clipped to stubble heights of 5.1 (2 inch), 10.2 (4 inch), or 15.2 cm (6 inch), and paired control plots were left unclipped. Complete treatment sets were located adjacent to the stream and 4 m from the stream at each site. All plots were clipped to 1 cm in October and regrowth was calculated by comparing clipped and control plots. Water table depth was measured weekly using PVC wells. Results indicate that height regrowth was associated positively with stubble height and was less with July compared to June clipping. Weight regrowth was also positively related to stubble height and decreased with July compared to June clipping whereas annual aboveground production increased with July clipping. Annual production values for clipped plots were higher than for unclipped plots, indicating compensatory production in response to defoliation. Plots distant from the stream had less water availability, but regrowth and production were not strongly influenced by distance from active stream channel. Timing and intensity of defoliation were reliable predictors of regrowth and production performance. Most clipping height x time combinations produced end of season heights sufficient to meet current federal stubble height requirements (i.e., 10 - 15 cm). Our results should provide insight on the timing and intensity of defoliation that will allow for adequate regrowth to meet different management objectives. However, other factors such as stream channel morphology, animal selectivity, and annual weather variation will need to be considered.

Last Modified: 10/20/2014
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