Grazing techniques that reflect natural patterns help protect grasslands from drought

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According to a series of studies at the University of Alberta designed to improve the net carbon balance of grazing grasslands and find ways to grow more, between fields, as Bison once moved across the Canadian prairie. Farmers who frequently change cattle in Canada build a drought resistance in the grasslands of western Canada. Elastic landscapes.

“The way we manage these grasslands has widespread implications for biodiversity, climate and food safety,” said a postdoctoral fellow in the Faculty of Science and a recent research leader in the journal. One Tim Dorbert said. Geoderma..

In a five-year project, the team considered adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) grazing. This is a type of rotary grazing that features high animal unit densities, a small paddock, short grazing followed by a long rest period.

“The conceptual idea of ​​this type of grazing is to graze relatively small areas for short periods of time with high animal density and then rest for long periods of time until the vegetation is fully restored,” Döbert said. “This means that these grasslands reflect more natural grazing patterns that have evolved, including bison crowd effects in North American situations, but generally speaking, wildlife crowd effects. “

Up to 34 AMP Ranches have been paired with “Adjacent Ranches”. At the far end of the spectrum, this is basically an open field where cows roam freely, but it also includes ranches where the herd is infrequently rotated. Also, on average, the ratio of rest to grazing is 30 times lower, and the average livestock density per paddock is 1/23 that of AMP farms.

Researchers have found that the water permeability of the AMP ranch is 30% higher than that of the adjacent ranch.

“Since the western grasslands are water-restricted ecosystems, ranchers can develop better strategies if they can identify changes in site management that are fairly easy to implement and have significant benefits for water penetration. Adapt to changing climates. “

In contrast to long-term rest, direct animal effects, including cattle grazing rates, show minimal or even negative effects on infiltration, and grazing at moderate or low grazing rates is grassland. We support the general notion that it is good for your health.

Find a sustainable balance

Regardless of the grazing approach, the higher the number of animals, the higher the CO in general.2 Emissions are published in the journal, as shown in another study with which Döbert was a co-author. Comprehensive environmental science.. However, methane absorption in soil was 1.5 times greater at the AMP grazing ranch than at the adjacent ranch.

“Not only is the number of animals decreasing, but it seems to be decreasing. Greenhouse gas emissions But it benefits the water dynamics of the grasslands of western Canada, “says Döbert.

“If there are more animals than the land can sustain, we will start to face the problem of land degradation, and too many animals can even lead to desertification scenarios.”

Döbert says grasslands naturally cover more than 30% of the earth’s surface land and are important for providing ecological goods and services, protecting wildlife and mitigating the effects of climate change. explained.

However, the vast grasslands of western Canada have been lost due to agricultural conversions over the last two centuries, and what remains is mainly used for livestock grazing.

“The conversion process loses a lot of soil carbon,” says Döbert. “You can point the lever in the right direction, but it really protects Meadow In the first place, it’s very important to avoid additional CO2 Emissions. “

Apart from that, he said the background of this project is to establish the science that can be used to develop the carbon offset protocol.

“Yes, with a small number of animals, ranchers may get less money directly from livestock, but may receive financial support for land management as an additional channel of income.”

Additional results on soil organic carbon, plant community function and diversity, soil microflora, and socioeconomic aspects of AMP grazing will be announced later next year.

The study was published in Geoderma, Comprehensive environmental science When Agriculture..

Centralized grazing can increase profits and improve the environment

For more information:
Timm F. Döbert et al., Adaptive multi-paddock grazing improves water penetration into Canadian grassland soils. Geoderma (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.geoderma.2021.115314

Zilong Ma et al, Soil greenhouse gas emissions and grazing management in northern temperate grasslands, Comprehensive environmental science (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.scitotenv.2021.148975

Bharat M. Shrestha et al, Adaptive Multi-Paddock Glazing, reduces the potential for soil greenhouse gas emissions by altering extracellular enzyme activity. Agriculture (2020). DOI: 10.3390 / agronomy10111781

Quote: Grazing techniques that reflect natural patterns were obtained from https: // on February 18, 2022 (2022). Helps protect grasslands from (February 18, 2014)

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Grazing techniques that reflect natural patterns help protect grasslands from drought

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