Influence of grazing exclosure on vegetation biomass and soil quality uri icon

abstract

  • This study investigated the influence of sixteen years exclosure from unmanaged grazing on aboveground vegetation biomass, soil organic matter (SOM), soil aggregation and nitrogen (N) mineralization in arid shrubland of Baluchistan, Pakistan. Sampling was carried out from three sites along the chronosequence of secondary succession. One site was located at open-for-grazing area (grazed site) and the other two sites were located in the area that is protected since 1998. One of the protected site is more remote from grazing (protected site 1) where the land is less disturbed and has thick vegetation than the other protected site (protected site 2). Results showed a significant difference for aboveground vegetation biomass across sites and was in the order of protected site 1 > protected site 2 > grazed site. Soil organic matter was 53% and 46% higher in protected sites than grazed site. Aggregates larger than 2 mm size were not detected in soil from grazed site but represented 4.5% and 3% of the sample soil profile at the protected site 1 and protected site 2, respectively. Rate of N mineralization was lower in soils at the grazed site as compared to soils at the protected sites. Soil moisture contents were significantly lower at grazed site and showed a strong positive correlation with aboveground vegetation biomass. This study demonstrates that unmanaged grazing severely affected aboveground vegetation biomass, soil organic matter, large-sized soil aggregates, nitrogen mineralization and soil moisture contents. Short term exclosure from grazing (similar to 16 years) can enhance aboveground vegetation biomass and soil quality in terms of soil organic matter accumulation, soil aggregation, retention of soil moisture and nitrogen mineralization in this arid rangeland.

publication date

  • 2017
  • 2017