Impacts of grazing systems on soil compaction and pasture production in Alberta

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • Livestock trampling impacts have been assessed in many Alberta grassland ecosystems, but the impacts of animal trampling on Aspen Boreal ecosystems have not been documented. This study compared the effects of high intensity [4.16 animal unit month per ha (AUM) ha-1] short-duration grazing (SDG) versus moderate intensity (2.08 AUM ha-1) continuous grazing (CG) by wapiti (Cervus elaphus canadensis) on soil compaction as measured by bulk density at field moist condition (Dbf) and penetration resistance (PR). Herbage phytomass was also measured on grazed pastures and compared to an ungrazed control (UNG). The study was conducted at Edmonton, Alberta, on a Dark Gray Luvisolic soil of loam texture. Sampling was conducted in the spring and fall of 1997 and 1998. Soil cores were collected at 2.5-cm intervals to a depth of 15-cm for measurement of bulk density (Dbf) and moisture content. Penetration resistance to 15 cm at 2.5-cm intervals was measured with a hand-pushed cone penetrometer. The Dbf and PR of the top 10-cm of soil were significantly (P ≤ 0.05) greater by 15 and 17% under SDG than CG, respectively, by wapiti. Generally, Dbf in both grazing treatments decreased over winter at the 0-7.5 cm and 12.5-15 cm depths, suggesting that freeze-thaw cycles over the winter alleviated compaction. Soil water content under SDG was significantly (P < 0.05) lower than CG. Total standing crop and fallen litter were significantly (P ≤ 0.05) greater in CG treatment than the SDG. The SDG treatment had significantly (P ≤ 0.05) less pasture herbage than CG areas in the spring (16%) and fall (26%) of 1997, and in the spring (22%) and fall (24%) of 1998, respectively. The SDG did not show any advantage over CG in improving soil physical characteristics and herbage production.

  • Date created
  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Type of Item
    Article (Published)
  • DOI
  • License
    @2002 Donkor, N. T., Gedir, J. V., Hudson, R. J., Bork, E. W., Chanasyk, D. S., Naeth, M. A. This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
  • Language
  • Citation for previous publication
    • Donkor, NT, JV Gedir, RJ Hudson, Bork, E.W., DS Chanasyk, and MA Naeth. (2002). Impacts of grazing systems on soil compaction and pasture production in Alberta. Canadian Journal of Soil Science, 82(1), 1-8.
  • Link to related item