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Managing Pastures for Optimum Soil Quality and Sustainability

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Title: Managing Pastures for Optimum Soil Quality and Sustainability


1
Managing Pastures for Optimum Soil Quality and
Sustainability
  • Lesson 9 Activity 2

2
Soil Quality is
the capacity of the soil to function.
3
Integrates 3 Types of Soil Properties of the Soil
  • Biological
  • Chemical
  • Physical

4
2 Parts of Soil Quality
  • Inherent Quality natural soil conditions
  • Dynamic Quality soil conditions as influenced
    by human use and management.

5
Measuring Parameters of Soil Quality with the
Soil Quality Test Kit
  • Physical
  • - Bulk density
  • - Aggregate stability
  • - Water holding capacity
  • - Infiltration rate
  • - Soil slake test

6
Measuring Parameters of Soil Quality with the
Soil Quality Test Kit
  • Chemical
  • - pH
  • - Electrical Conductivity
  • - Nitrate

7
Measuring Parameters of Soil Quality with the
Soil Quality Test Kit
  • Biological
  • - Respiration
  • - Earthworms
  • - Active Soil Carbon test
  • - Scum Test

8
  • Attributes of Pastureland Soil Quality
  • Plant production, reproduction, mortality
  • Erosion
  • Vegetation composition
  • Water availability water quality
  • Wildlife habitat
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Livestock health production
  • Friability of the soil

9
Common Soil Quality Concerns on Pastureland
  • Low levels of soil organic matter
  • Soil compaction
  • Imbalances in the soil biological community
  • Soil pH too low
  • Nutrient deficiencies and excesses

10
  • How Does Soil Quality Relate to Pastureland
    Condition?
  • They are interdependent.
  • Pastureland condition is characterized by the
    capacity to which both the soil and plant
    communities function.
  • The capacity of the soil to function influences
    ecological processes.

11
  • Pasture Condition Indicators
  • Percent desirable plants
  • Plant cover
  • Plant diversity
  • Plant residue
  • Plant vigor
  • Percent legume

12
Pasture Condition Indicators(Continued)
  • Soil compaction
  • Erosion
  • Soil fertility
  • Soil pH (reaction)

13
Pasture Condition Indicators(Continued)
  • Uniformity of use
  • Severity of use
  • Site adaptation of desired forage species
  • Tolerance of climatic stress
  • Livestock concentration areas
  • Disease insect pressure

14
Grazing Management is the Key to Soil
Quality on Pastureland
15
  • In Conquest of the land through 7000 years, W. C.
    Loudermilk
  • documents the value of soil stewardship for the
    sustainability of the ecosystem and the stability
    of society
  • cites erosion from overgrazing and deforestation
    of the uplands and the associated sedimentation
    on the plains as primary culprits leading to the
    downfall of numerous civilizations

16
Grazing Management Influences
  • Vegetative cover distribution
  • Species composition
  • Soil organic matter
  • Soil biology
  • Deposition of nutrients
  • Soil compaction
  • Infiltration

17
Contributors to Soil Organic Matter on Pastureland
  • Residues from non-consumed forage
  • Plant roots
  • Feces from grazing animals
  • Soil organisms
  • Application of organic materials

18
Plant Roots A Component of Pasture Ecology
  • The amount of roots sloughing in a year ranges
    from 25 to 40 of the root biomass.
  • - - - - - - - - - -
  • Reduced root growth diminishes
  • - the contribution of the root system to
    soil organic matter
  • - plant health above ground biomass
    production
  • - nutrient uptake and cycling
  • - the soil biological community

19
Depth of Rooting under Rotational Grazing and
Continuous Grazing Systems Bath County, Kentucky
Continuous
Rotational
20
Rotationally Grazed Cool Season Pasture Bath
County, Kentucky
21
Rotationally Grazed Cool Season Pasture Bath
County, Kentucky
Tall Fescue Tall Fescue Tall Fescue
Orchardgrass
Orchardgrass Fescue/Bluegrass Rotational
Continuous Continuous
Rotational Rotational
Rotational
22
Continuously Grazed Tall Fescue Pasture, Bath
County, Kentucky
23
Continuously Grazed Tall Fescue Pasture, Bath
County, Kentucky
Tall Fescue Tall Fescue Tall Fescue
Orchardgrass
Orchardgrass Fescue/Bluegrass Rotational
Continuous Continuous
Rotational Rotational
Rotational
24
Continuously Grazed Tall Fescue Pasture, Bath
County, Kentucky
25
Continuously Grazed Tall Fescue Pasture, Bath
County, Kentucky
26
Continuously Grazed Tall Fescue Pasture, Bath
County, Kentucky
27
Continuously Grazed Tall Fescue Pasture, Bath
County, Kentucky
Tall Fescue Tall Fescue Tall Fescue
Orchardgrass
Orchardgrass Fescue/Bluegrass Rotational
Continuous Continuous
Rotational Rotational
Rotational
28
Rotationally Grazed Orchardgrass, Bath County,
Kentucky
29
Rotationally Grazed Orchardgrass, Bath County,
Kentucky
Tall Fescue Tall Fescue Tall Fescue
Orchardgrass
Orchardgrass Fescue/Bluegrass Rotational
Continuous Continuous
Rotational Rotational
Rotational
30
Rotationally Grazed-Intensively Managed
Orchardgrass, Bath County, Kentucky
31
Rotationally Grazed-Intensively Managed
Orchardgrass, Bath County, Kentucky
Tall Fescue Tall Fescue Tall Fescue
Orchardgrass
Orchardgrass Fescue/Bluegrass Rotational
Continuous Continuous
Rotational Rotational
Rotational
32
Rotationally Grazed-Intensively Managed
Orchardgrass, Bath County, Kentucky
33
Rotationally Grazed/Hayed Tall Fescue-Bluegrass
Pasture, Bath County, Kentucky
34
Rotationally Grazed/Hayed Tall Fescue-Bluegrass
Pasture, Bath County, Kentucky
Tall Fescue Tall Fescue Tall Fescue
Orchardgrass
Orchardgrass Fescue/Bluegrass Rotational
Continuous Continuous
Rotational Rotational
Rotational
35
Foreground-Continuously Grazed Background-Rotation
ally Grazed
Foreground-Rotationally Grazed Background-Continuo
usly Grazed Different Kentucky Producers
Different Kentucky Producers
36
  • Value of Dung Beetles to Pasture Management
  • Provide a small but remarkable role in the
    pastureland ecosystem
  • Feed on manure and use it to provide housing and
    food for their young, subsequently improving
    nutrient cycling, soil structure and forage
    growth and decreasing certain animal pests

37
  • Benefits to production and the ecosystem
  • Increased forage yields
  • Improvements in soil organic matter, friability,
    aeration, and available water
  • Reduction of insect pests that breed in animal
    feces
  • Reduction of animal diseases
  • Rapid cycling of nutrients
  • Reduction loss of N from feces
  • Reduced avoidance of grazing areas due to feces
    presence.

38
Dung beetle populations are increased in
controlled grazing systems because manure is
concentrated in smaller areas. Dung beetle
larvae are susceptible to some insecticides used
for fly and internal parasite control. Selective
and judicious use of these will minimize adverse
effects on the population of dung beetles.
39
Citizens of the Soil Community
  • Plant roots and root nodules
  • Earthworms
  • Slugs and snails
  • Nematodes
  • Woodlice
  • Centipedes and millipedes
  • Spiders and mites Springtails
  • Beetles
  • Ants and termites
  • Bacteria and Actinomycetes
  • Protozoa
  • Fungus

40
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41
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42
Soil Citizens Provide Community Services
  • Nitrogen fixation
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Soil structure and aeration

43
  • Earthworms
  • Stimulate microbial activity
  • Mix and aggregate soil
  • Increase infiltration
  • Improve water-holding capacity
  • Provide channels for root growth
  • Bury and shred plant residue

44
Earthworms (3 niches)
45
Soil Life
46
Arthropods (Insects and Relatives)
47
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48
Bacteria
  • Services
  • Decomposition of OM
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Nitrogen fixation
  • Nitrification
  • Denitrification
  • Disease Suppression
  • Breakdown of hard to decompose compounds

49
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50
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51
No mycorrhizae
With mycorrhizae
52
Nutrients as a Soil Quality Concern
  • Accumulation of excessive phosphorus where animal
    manures are applied
  • Uneven distribution of nutrients deposited in
    urine and feces by grazing animals
  • Soil pH outside the range for the forage species
    to be produced
  • Building soil organic matter to provide a minimal
    stable bank of nutrients

53
Considerations for Nutrient Distribution on
Pastureland
  • A cow defecates 10 times per day and urinates 8
    12 times per day.
  • A urination spot is equivalent to 500 to 1000 lbs
    of N/acre.
  • A cow pie is equivalent to 200 700 lbs of
    N/acre.
  • Congregating adds to uneven distribution.
  • Buildup of N around water, shade, mineral
    supplements and supplemental feeding areas.

54
Considerations for Nutrient Distribution on
Pastureland
  • In large paddocks, animals tend to graze and
    lounge as a herd, visit water and shade as a
    herd.
  • They distribute themselves more evenly in smaller
    paddocks and visit water and shade individually.
  • Spread the visiting spots out so the herd travels
    throughout the pasture.
  • When feasible, feed on the poorest areas and
    place water and shade in that area.

55
Compaction as a Soil Quality Concern on
Pastureland
  • Compacted soil limits root growth, seed
    germination, and infiltration.
  • Bare soil is compacted (crusted) by rainfall.
  • Compaction from hoof action is greatest on
    overgrazed pastures.
  • Compaction may be significant when animals graze
    or equipment is operated on wet or saturated
    soils.

56
Compaction as a Soil Quality Concern on
Pastureland
  • Proper rest periods in a managed grazing system
    will facilitate amelioration of compacted soil by
    plant roots, animals, and soil organisms.
  • Arrange pasture layout and the location and
    design of watering and supplemental feeding
    facilities to minimize the area of concentrated
    use.

57
Management Needed for Pasture Ecology and Soil
Quality Considerations
  • Proper grazing management
  • - timing and intensity suitable for the forage
    mixture
  • - proper recovery following grazing
  • Rest of pastures to get cover for night crawlers
  • Multi-species pastures
  • - legumes for livestock and earthworms

58
Management Needed for Pasture Ecology and Soil
Quality Considerations
  • Inoculate legume seed with proper strain of
    bacteria
  • Adequate but not excessive levels nutrient
    levels
  • Soil pH of 5.8 to 7.0 depending on species
    composition
  • Manage nutrients on the farm
  • - recycle manure, urine organic residues

59
Management Needed for Pasture Ecology and Soil
Quality Considerations
  • Fly control friendly to dung beetles
  • Weed control friendly to legumes and soil micro
    organisms
  • Co-graze livestock
  • - convert weeds to animal feed and manure

60
Are you on the road to improved Pastureland Soil
Quality?
Left - Rotationally Grazed/Hayed, Right -
Continuously Grazed
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