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Grazing of Dairy Cows in Europe—An In-Depth Analysis Based on the Perception of Grassland Experts
Article

Do Grazing Systems and Species Composition Affect Root Biomass and Soil Organic Matter Dynamics in Temperate Grassland Swards?

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National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Antonie van Leeuwenhoeklaan 9, 3721MA Bilthoven, The Netherlands
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Farming Systems Ecology Group, Wageningen University & Research, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Mathematical and Statistical methods, Wageningen University & Research, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Louis Bolk Institute, Kosterijland 3-5, 3981 AJ Bunnik, The Netherlands
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Plant Production Systems Group, Wageningen University & Research, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 1260; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031260
Received: 24 December 2019 / Revised: 1 February 2020 / Accepted: 3 February 2020 / Published: 10 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Grazing Systems)
Elevating soil organic matter (SOM) levels through changes in grassland management may contribute to lower greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and mitigate climate change. SOM dynamics of grassland soils may be affected by grazing systems and plant species composition. We analyzed the effects of simulated grazing systems (continuous (CG), rotational (RG), and lenient strip grazing (LG)) and species composition (monocultures of perennial ryegrass fertilized (LP+) and unfertilized (LP−)), tall fescue (fertilized, FA+), and a mixture of these two species with white clover (fertilized, LFT+)) on root biomass and SOM dynamics in field experiments on loamy and sandy soils in the Netherlands. Dried cattle manure was added to all fertilized treatments. We hypothesized that SOM accumulation would be highest under CG and LG, and FA+ and LFT+ as a consequence of greater belowground biomass production. SOM was monitored after conversion from arable land for a period of two years (loamy and sandy soil) and five years (sandy soil). We found that management practices to increase SOM storage were strongly influenced by sampling depth and length of the grassland period. SOM increased significantly in nearly all fertilized treatments in the 0–60 cm layer. No differences between species compositions were found. However, when only the 30–60 cm soil layer was considered, significantly higher SOM increases were found under FA+, which is consistent with its greater root biomass than the other species. SOM increases tended to be higher under LG than RG. The results of this study suggest that it seems possible to comply with the 4-thousandth initiative during a period of five years with fertilized perennial ryegrass or tall fescue in monoculture after conversion from arable land. It remains to be investigated to which extent this sequestration of carbon can be maintained after converting grassland back to arable land. View Full-Text
Keywords: grassland species; sampling depth; carbon sequestration; land-use change grassland species; sampling depth; carbon sequestration; land-use change
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MDPI and ACS Style

Hoogsteen, M.J.J.; Bakker, E.-J.; van Eekeren, N.; Tittonell, P.A.; Groot, J.C.J.; van Ittersum, M.K.; Lantinga, E.A. Do Grazing Systems and Species Composition Affect Root Biomass and Soil Organic Matter Dynamics in Temperate Grassland Swards? Sustainability 2020, 12, 1260. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031260

AMA Style

Hoogsteen MJJ, Bakker E-J, van Eekeren N, Tittonell PA, Groot JCJ, van Ittersum MK, Lantinga EA. Do Grazing Systems and Species Composition Affect Root Biomass and Soil Organic Matter Dynamics in Temperate Grassland Swards? Sustainability. 2020; 12(3):1260. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031260

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hoogsteen, Martine J.J., Evert-Jan Bakker, Nick van Eekeren, Pablo A. Tittonell, Jeroen C.J. Groot, Martin K. van Ittersum, and Egbert A. Lantinga 2020. "Do Grazing Systems and Species Composition Affect Root Biomass and Soil Organic Matter Dynamics in Temperate Grassland Swards?" Sustainability 12, no. 3: 1260. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031260

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