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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Raleigh, North Carolina » Plant Science Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #333626

Research Project: Strategies to Predict and Mitigate the Impacts of Climate Variability on Soil, Plant, Animal, and Environmental Interactions

Location: Plant Science Research

Title: Grazingland soil health workshop: State of the science

item Franzluebbers, Alan

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/6/2016
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Soils in the southeastern USA are generally of low inherent fertility, but with large capacity to produce abundant forage based on favorable climatic conditions. Soil health under forage and grazinglands has not been a topic of widespread investigation until relatively recently. Soil organic matter quantity, quality, and depth distribution are key attributes that influence many of the physical, chemical, and biological properties and processes of interest in soil health analysis. Return of feces to grazingland has an important contribution to soil organic matter and soil biological properties. Although various rotations grazing methods have been promoted to increase forage productivity and resilience of grazinglands, data are scarce on soil health benefits. Residual forage mass may be the most important attribute to manage soil health in the region. In addition, widespread poultry production in the region offers opportunities to enhance or degrade a variety of ecosystem processes mediated by soil health. Some key research gaps are to better define relationships between plant and animal organic matter inputs and storage of soil organic C and cycling of N in the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. Defining effects of plant species composition, grazing method, and nutrient application on soil C storage and various soil health indicators continues to be a need, given the wide range of soil conditions among major land resource areas in the region. Documenting the effects of management approach on short- and long-term productivity, as well as on a variety of ecosystem services of importance to producers and stakeholders in the region will be necessary to create a transparent framework to promote soil health in grazinglands of the southeastern USA.