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ARS Home » Plains Area » Sidney, Montana » Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory » Agricultural Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #104354



Submitted to: Journal of Range Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/18/2000
Publication Date: 11/1/2000
Citation: Prosser, C.W., Sedvec, K., Barker, W. 2000. Tracked vehicle effects on vegetation and soil characteristics. Journal of Range Management. 53(6): 666-670.

Interpretive Summary: A three-year experiment to evaluate tracked vehicle effects on vegetation and soil characteristics was established on the Gilbert C. Grafton South State Military Reservation (CGS) in North Dakota. Study objectives were to evaluate the effects of three tracked vehicle use intensity treatments on plant species cover and frequency, and soil compaction. The three treatments evaluated include heavy use (74 passes), moderate use (37 passes and no use. The moderate use treatment represents a typical use of one battalion unit at CGS with the heavy use treatment classified as two battalion units. A reconnaissance of CGS was conducted in the summer of 1995 to select a typical landscape utilized by a battalion with tracked vehicles. This land area comprised a 50 by 150 meter block subdivided into three 50 by 50 meter blocks. Each 50 by 50 meter block was subdivided into othree 16.7 by 50 meter blocks with each block treated with one of three treatments using a randomized complete block design with three replicates. Soil bulk density increased (P<0.05) on the moderate and heavy use treatments in the 0 to 15, 30 to 45, and 45 to 60 cm soil depths. Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) cover (P<0.05) decreased in 1996 on both the moderate and heavy use treatments compared with the control but was not (P>0.05) different among all treatments in 1997. The tracked vehicle use o the heavy and moderate treatments did not change species composition or litter amounts after two years; however, bulk density and bare ground increased on both treatments in 1996 and 1997.

Technical Abstract: This paper evaluates the effects of tracked vehicle use intensities on plan species cover and frequency, and soil compaction. The hypothesis was that tracked vehicle use on a Kentucky bluegrass-smooth bromegrass (Poa pratensis-Bromus inermis) plant community in a transitional grassland would adversely affect soil bulk density, soil structure, and plant species composition. The results from this study will allow land managers and installation officials to understand the impacts that tracked vehicles have on the land base and adjust their training appropriately.