Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Grazing of cattle pastures can improve soil quality

Date:
March 3, 2011
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
Scientists have given growers in the Piedmont guidance on how to restore degraded soils and make the land productive. Researchers found that if cattle are managed so that they graze moderately, soil quality can be restored and emissions of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) can be reduced.

Growing tall fescue and allowing moderate grazing by cattle can help restore quality to soil degraded by decades of plowing, according to new ARS research.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Alan Franzluebbers, ARS.

A team of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists has given growers in the Piedmont guidance on how to restore degraded soils and make the land productive. Researchers with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) found that if cattle are managed so that they graze moderately, soil quality can be restored and emissions of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) can be reduced.

The research was recently published in the Soil Science Society of America Journal.

Cotton, soybean, sorghum and wheat are widely grown in the Piedmont, an area which stretches from Alabama to Virginia. But decades of plowing have degraded the soil and growers have slowly allowed much of the land to revert to forests and pastures, according to Alan Franzluebbers, an ecologist at the ARS J. Phil Campbell Sr. Natural Resource Conservation Center in Watkinsville, Ga.

Franzluebbers led a project where grasses were planted on rolling, eroded land in northeastern Georgia and pastures were grazed by beef cattle to assess grazing effects on soil quality. Coastal bermudagrass was planted initially. After five years, tall fescue was drilled into the bermudagrass to extend the grazing season from five months to 10 months of the year. The research team included retired ARS scientists John Stuedemann and Stan Wilkinson.

The researchers varied the number of cattle per acre and assessed how the soils responded to different grazing scenarios. Under each scenario, they looked at the amount of soil compaction that occurred, the amounts of organic carbon and nitrogen in the soil, and the amounts of surface plant residues, which help prevent erosion. They also looked at how the soil responded to three different fertilizer treatments (inorganic, mixed inorganic and organic broiler litter, and organic broiler litter).

From an environmental standpoint, grasslands have traditionally been viewed as best managed by leaving the land unused. But the team found that while fertilizer type made little difference, different grazing scenarios produced different effects, and the grazed land produced more grass than the ungrazed land and had the greatest amount of carbon and nitrogen sequestered in soil. Sequestering carbon and nitrogen in soil has become a major goal for agriculture, because that sequestration reduces greenhouse gas emissions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. The original article was written by Dennis O'Brien. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Grazing of cattle pastures can improve soil quality." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110303111626.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2011, March 3). Grazing of cattle pastures can improve soil quality. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110303111626.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Grazing of cattle pastures can improve soil quality." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110303111626.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Peace Corps is one of several U.S.-based organizations to pull workers out of West Africa because of the Ebola outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins