Improvements in soil properties under adaptive multipaddock grazing relative to conventional grazing

Samantha Mosier, Steve Apfelbaum, Peter Byck, Jim Ippolito, M. Francesca Cotrufo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Within managed ecosystems, such as some livestock grazed grasslands, soil physical, chemical, and biological properties may be severely compromised relative to native grasslands. Conventional grazing (CG) management, commonly referred to as continuous grazing, can affect soil properties and health by reducing soil C stocks and other available nutrients, while creating bare patches in vegetation that may enhance erosion and runoff. In contrast, adaptive multipaddock (AMP) grazing, an intensive form of rotational grazing that moves dense cattle herds quickly over the land followed by rest periods for the regrowth of plants, has been proposed as a regenerative grassland management tool that can improve soil properties such as soil C stocks, soil structure, as well as nutrient and water retention. Our research analyzed soils from 10 grasslands in the southeast United States representing either CG or AMP grazing management. We analyzed the A-horizons of these soils for physical, chemical, and biological properties considered indicators of soil health across each management type. Chemical soil properties (e.g., cation exchange capacity [CEC], base saturation [BS], electrical conductivity [EC]) were improved where AMP grazing management was implemented. Additionally, farms using AMP grazing management had greater A-horizon C and N stocks in bulk soils and across multiple soil organic matter (SOM) fractions. No biological indicators measured were affected by the grassland management except potential N mineralization rate, which was lower under AMP. Taken together, these results provide evidence that AMP grazing management could be implemented to regenerate several grassland soil properties across land currently under conventional grazing management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAgronomy Journal
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science

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