Special Issue "Grassland Management for Sustainable Agroecosystems"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Grassland and Pasture Science".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Abad Chabbi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), URP3F, F-86600 Lusignan, France
Interests: biogeochemistry; landuse changes; agroecosytems; grassland; climate change; sustainability; carbon storage; nutrient availability; stoichiometry; plant-soil system
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Gianni Bellocchi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
UCA, INRA, VetAgro Sup, Unité Mixte de Recherche sur l’Écosystème Prairial (UREP), 63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France
Interests: agricultural and environmental climatology, biogeochemical fluxes, hydro-meteorology
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Grasslands should no longer be considered only as a food resource for domestic herbivore farming, but also and above all as a source of ecosystem services that they provide to society and contribute to the sustainability of agriculture. Intensification of pastoral farming is spreading around the world and its effects on ecosystem services are largely unknown, notably in terms of soil C dynamics, C storage and greenhouse gas emissions. Grasslands play a key role in this respect, in particular by (i) strongly coupling the C, N and P cycles, thus limiting emissions to the hydrosphere and the atmosphere, and (ii) acting positively on the dynamics of biodiversity. Moreover, increasing food production and expanding rural development from constrained land areas under climate change are great global challenges to face, which are being met by increased fertiliser and irrigation inputs. However, while we have some coarse-grained knowledge about the way grasslands are managed at various scales, surprisingly little is known about the effects of different management options on long-term C storage and other ecosystem services. Contributions presenting management effects on biogeochemical cycles and ecosystem services from farm to global scale are welcome. Specifically, we invite contributions presenting new evidence on the effects of alternative management options, which minimise C losses or increase soil carbon storage and the provision of other ecosystem services.

Dr. Abad Chabbi
Dr. Gianni Bellocchi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agronomy is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Grassland management
  • Carbon storage
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Intensification
  • Grazing
  • Food security
  • Climate change
  • Ecosystem services

Published Papers (14 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle
Soil Quality of Abandoned Agricultural Terraces Managed with Prescribed Fires and Livestock in the Municipality of Capafonts, Catalonia, Spain (2000–2017)
Agronomy 2019, 9(6), 340; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9060340 - 25 Jun 2019
Abstract
The abandonment of the economic activities of agriculture, livestock, and forestry since the second half of the 20th century, in conjunction with the exodus of inhabitants from rural areas, has resulted in an increase in the forest mass as well as an expansion [...] Read more.
The abandonment of the economic activities of agriculture, livestock, and forestry since the second half of the 20th century, in conjunction with the exodus of inhabitants from rural areas, has resulted in an increase in the forest mass as well as an expansion of forest areas. This, in turn, has led to a greater risk of forest fires and an increase in the intensity and severity of these fires. Moreover, these forest masses represent a fire hazard to adjacent urban areas, which is a problem illustrated here by the village of Capafonts, whose former agricultural terraces have been invaded by shrubs, and which in the event of fire runs the risk of aiding the propagation of the flames from the forest to the village’s homes. One of the tools available to reduce the amount of fuel in zones adjoining inhabited areas is prescribed burns. The local authorities have also promoted measures to convert these terraces into pasture; in this way, the grazing of livestock (in this particular instance, goats) aims to keep fuel levels low and thus reduce the risk of fire. The use of prescribed fires is controversial, as they are believed to be highly aggressive for the soil, and little is known about their long-term effects. The alternation of the two strategies is more acceptable—that is, the use of prescribed burning followed by the grazing of livestock. Yet, similarly little is known about the effects of this management sequence on the soil. As such, this study seeks to examine the impact of the management of the abandoned terraces of Capafonts by means of two prescribed fires (2000 and 2002), which were designed specifically to prevent forest fires from reaching the village. Following these two prescribed burns, a herd of goats began to graze these terraces in 2005. Here, we report the results of soil analyses conducted during this period of years up to and including 2017. A plot comprising 30 sampling points was established on one of the terraces and used to monitor its main soil quality properties. The data were subject to statistical tests to determine whether the recorded changes were significant. The results show modifications to the concentration of soil elements, and since the first prescribed burn, these changes have all been statistically significant. We compare our results with those reported in other studies that evaluate optimum soil concentrations for the adequate growth of grazing to feed goats, and conclude that the soil conditions on the terrace after 17 years are optimum for livestock use. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grassland Management for Sustainable Agroecosystems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Distance from Night Penning Areas as an Effective Proxy to Estimate Site Use Intensity by Grazing Sheep in the Alps
Agronomy 2019, 9(6), 333; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9060333 - 21 Jun 2019
Abstract
Livestock site use intensity can vary widely across a grazing area due to several factors such as topography and distance from sheds and water sources. However, an accurate approximation of animal site use should be assessed for each part of the grazing area [...] Read more.
Livestock site use intensity can vary widely across a grazing area due to several factors such as topography and distance from sheds and water sources. However, an accurate approximation of animal site use should be assessed for each part of the grazing area to apply effective management strategies. In the Alps, shepherds manage sheep through lenient supervision during the day and confining the animals in temporary night penning areas (TNPA) at night. In our case study, we assessed sheep site use over the grazing area with global positioning system (GPS) collars and calculated the sums of inverse distances from all TNPA (unweighted and weighted on the number of penning nights) and from all water sources, as well as the slope, on 118 sample points. We assessed the relative importance of these variables in affecting site use intensity by animals using different sets of models. Both the unweighted and weighted distances from TNPA were found to be the most important factors. The best fitting model accounted for the weighted distance from TNPA and the distance from water, but the latter showed a lower relative importance. Our study suggests that using the distance from TNPA, preferably weighted on the number of penning nights, is an effective proxy to estimate the spatial variability of sheep stocking rate during grazing in the Alps. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grassland Management for Sustainable Agroecosystems)
Open AccessArticle
Soil Macronutrient Responses in Diverse Landscapes of Southern Tallgrass to Two Stocking Methods
Agronomy 2019, 9(6), 329; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9060329 - 20 Jun 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Macronutrient (N, P, S, K, Ca, and Mg) availability and distribution in soils of grassland ecosystems are affected by diverse factors, including landscape position, climate, and forms of management. This study examined flux in plant-available macronutrients in production-scale (60 to 80 ha) paddocks [...] Read more.
Macronutrient (N, P, S, K, Ca, and Mg) availability and distribution in soils of grassland ecosystems are affected by diverse factors, including landscape position, climate, and forms of management. This study examined flux in plant-available macronutrients in production-scale (60 to 80 ha) paddocks of southern tallgrass prairie of central Oklahoma, United States, managed (2009–15) under two contrasting stocking methods (continuous yearlong; rotational stocking among 10 sub-paddocks). Macronutrient availability within the 0–7.5 cm and 7.5–15 cm soil depths were determined with sets of anion-cation exchange membrane probes at 16 locations within paddocks, oriented along transects from water sources to far corners. No clear overall effect related to stocking method was recorded for all macronutrient distributions. The only significant stocking method × location interaction occurred for K (p = 0.01). All other macronutrients displayed significant (p < 0.08) location effects that were common across stocking methods. Effects relatable to stocking method occurred in interactions with soil depth or time of year (p < 0.10), but responses of macronutrient flux to stocking method in these interactions varied. Higher flux occurred in available S, Ca, and Mg in proximity (<24 m) to water sources, which may be related to grazing, but local features of the landscape may also have been involved. More attention to landscape features included within paddocks, and standardized organization of water and other features within paddocks, would improve the potential to define grazing effects on macronutrient distribution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grassland Management for Sustainable Agroecosystems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Stocking Methods and Soil Macronutrient Distributions in Southern Tallgrass Paddocks: Are There Linkages?
Agronomy 2019, 9(6), 281; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9060281 - 31 May 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Broad ranges of factors (parent materials, climate, plant community, landscape position, management) can influence macronutrient availability in rangeland soils. Two important factors in production-scale paddocks are the influences of location in space and land management. This study examined plant-available macronutrients (total mineral and [...] Read more.
Broad ranges of factors (parent materials, climate, plant community, landscape position, management) can influence macronutrient availability in rangeland soils. Two important factors in production-scale paddocks are the influences of location in space and land management. This study examined plant-available macronutrients (total mineral and nitrate-N, P, S, K, Ca, and Mg) in soils, with paired sets of probes (anion and cation exchange membranes) that simulate uptake by plant roots. Data were collected from sets of paddocks of southern tallgrass prairie in central Oklahoma, managed by four stocking methods during the 2015 growing season (mid-March, growth initiation by native grasses, and early-August, time of peak living plant biomass). Macronutrient availability in the 0–7.5 cm and 7.5–15 cm depths were determined at locations in close proximity to water (water tanks and 25% of the distance between tanks and paddock mid-points (PMP)), and distances near the mid-points of paddocks (70% of the distance between water and mid-points (0.7 PMP), and PMP). All of the tested stocking methods affected levels of availability of macronutrients at different times of the growing season, and among different locations within paddocks. Such responses indicated stocking methods may not result in uniform distributions of flux in plant-available macronutrients. The overall exposure of landscapes and arrangement of features within paddocks also appeared to influence macronutrient distributions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grassland Management for Sustainable Agroecosystems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Feed Value of Barn-Dried Hays from Permanent Grassland: A Comparison with Fresh Forage
Agronomy 2019, 9(6), 273; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9060273 - 30 May 2019
Abstract
In mountain areas, hays are the main forage in winter diets for livestock. Barn-dried hays can be an alternative to traditional hays, which are generally characterized by a low feed value. The aim of this study was to compare the feed value of [...] Read more.
In mountain areas, hays are the main forage in winter diets for livestock. Barn-dried hays can be an alternative to traditional hays, which are generally characterized by a low feed value. The aim of this study was to compare the feed value of barn-dried hays with that of the fresh forage from a permanent meadow. The study was carried out over three periods during the first growth cycle of the meadow’s vegetation (from 30 May to 3 June, from 13 to 17 June, and from 27 June to 1 July). Fresh forage and barn-dried hays of the same fresh forages were tested for dry matter digestibility (DMD), organic matter digestibility (OMD), and voluntary intake (VI). Both types of forage obtained each period were tested with an interval of 15 days. Chemical composition and OMD of forages did not change (p > 0.05) according to the feeding method. However, the DMD values for barn-dried hays were higher (p < 0.05) than for fresh forages at the end of the cycle. VI and digestible organic matter intake of barn-dried hays were higher (p < 0.05) than that of fresh forages. In conclusion, barn-dried hays obtained from permanent grasslands presented a higher feed value than fresh forages. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grassland Management for Sustainable Agroecosystems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Evaluating the Impacts of Continuous and Rotational Grazing on Tallgrass Prairie Landscape Using High-Spatial-Resolution Imagery
Agronomy 2019, 9(5), 238; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9050238 - 09 May 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This study evaluated the impacts of different grazing treatments (continuous (C) and rotational (R) grazing) on tallgrass prairie landscape, using high-spatial-resolution aerial imagery (1-m at RGB and near-infrared bands) of experimental C and R pastures within two replicates (Rep A and Rep B) [...] Read more.
This study evaluated the impacts of different grazing treatments (continuous (C) and rotational (R) grazing) on tallgrass prairie landscape, using high-spatial-resolution aerial imagery (1-m at RGB and near-infrared bands) of experimental C and R pastures within two replicates (Rep A and Rep B) in the southern Great Plains (SGP) of the United States. The imagery was acquired by the National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) during the agricultural growing season of selected years (2010, 2013, 2015, and 2017) in the continental United States. Land cover maps were generated by combining visual interpolation, a support vector machine, and a decision tree classifier. Landscape metrics (class area, patch number, percentage of landscape, and fragmentation indices) were calculated from the FRAGSTATS (a computer software program designed to compute a wide variety of landscape metrics for categorical map patterns) based on land cover results. Both the metrics and land cover results were used to analyze landscape dynamics in the experiment pastures. Results showed that both grass and shrubs of different pastures differed largely in the same year and had significant annual dynamics controlled by climate. High stocking intensity delayed grass growth. A large proportion of bare soil occurred in sub-paddocks of rotational grazing that were just grazed or under grazing. Rep A experienced rapid shrub encroachment, with a large proportion of shrub at the beginning of the experiment. Shrub may occupy 41% of C and 15% of R in Rep A by 2030, as revealed by the linear regression analysis of shrub encroachment. In contrast, shrub encroachment was not significant in Rep B, which only had a small number of shrub patches at the beginning of the experiment. This result indicates that the shrub encroachment is mainly controlled by the initial status of the pastures instead of grazing management. However, the low temporal resolution of the NAIP imagery (one snapshot in two or three years) limits our comparison of the continuous and rotational grazing at the annual scale. Future studies need to combine NAIP imagery with other higher temporal resolution imagery (e.g., WorldView), in order to better evaluate the interannual variabilities of grass productivity and shrub encroachment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grassland Management for Sustainable Agroecosystems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Assessment of the Standardized Precipitation and Evaporation Index (SPEI) as a Potential Management Tool for Grasslands
Agronomy 2019, 9(5), 235; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9050235 - 09 May 2019
Abstract
Early warning of detrimental weather and climate (particularly drought) on forage production would allow for tactical decision-making for the management of pastures, supplemental feed/forage resources, and livestock. The standardized precipitation and evaporation index (SPEI) has been shown to be correlated with production of [...] Read more.
Early warning of detrimental weather and climate (particularly drought) on forage production would allow for tactical decision-making for the management of pastures, supplemental feed/forage resources, and livestock. The standardized precipitation and evaporation index (SPEI) has been shown to be correlated with production of various cereal and vegetable crops, and with above-ground tree mass. Its correlation with above-ground grassland or forage mass (AGFM) is less clear. To investigate the utility of SPEI for assessing future biomass status, we used biomass data from a site on the Konza Prairie (KP; for years 1984–1991) and from a site at the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service’s (USDA-ARS) Grazinglands Research Laboratory (GRL; for years 2009–2015), and a publicly-available SPEI product. Using discriminant analysis and artificial neural networks (ANN), we analyzed the monthly timescale SPEI to categorize AGFM into above average, average, and below average conditions for selected months in the grazing season. Assessment of the confusion matrices from the analyses suggested that the ANN better predicted class membership from the SPEI than did the discriminant analysis. Within-site cross validation of the ANNs revealed classification errors ranging from 0 to 50%, depending upon month of class prediction and study site. Across-site ANN validation indicated that the GRL ANN algorithm better predicted KP AGFM class membership than did the KP ANN prediction of GRL AGFM class membership; however, misclassification rates were ≥25% in all months. The ANN developed from the combined datasets exhibited cross-validation misclassification rates of ≤20% for three of the five months being predicted, with the remaining two months having misclassification rates of 33%. Redefinition of the AGFM classes to identify truly adequate AGFM (i.e., average to above average forage availability) improved prediction accuracy. In this regard, results suggest that the SPEI has potential for use as a predictive tool for classifying AGFM, and, thus, for grassland and livestock management. However, a more comprehensive investigation that includes a larger dataset, or combinations of datasets representing other areas, and inclusion of a bi-weekly SPEI may provide additional insights into the usefulness of the SPEI as an indicator for biomass production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grassland Management for Sustainable Agroecosystems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Climate Effects on Tallgrass Prairie Responses to Continuous and Rotational Grazing
Agronomy 2019, 9(5), 219; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9050219 - 30 Apr 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Cattle grazing is an important economic activity in the tallgrass prairie systems in the Great Plains of the United States. Tallgrass prairie may respond differently to grazing management (e.g., high and low grazing intensity) under variable climate conditions. This study investigated the responses [...] Read more.
Cattle grazing is an important economic activity in the tallgrass prairie systems in the Great Plains of the United States. Tallgrass prairie may respond differently to grazing management (e.g., high and low grazing intensity) under variable climate conditions. This study investigated the responses of two replicated (rep a and rep b) tallgrass prairie systems to continuous (C) and rotational (R) grazing under different climate conditions over a decade (2008–2017). The enhanced vegetation index (EVI) and gross primary productivity (GPP) were compared between grazing systems (C vs. R), while EVI was compared among paddocks under rotational grazing to show the impacts of time since grazing. The average EVI in rep a was usually higher than that in rep b which could be explained by different land characteristics (e.g., soil types) associated with different landscape positions. Similar to EVI, GPP was usually higher in rep a than rep b. The average growing season EVI and GPP were higher in rotational grazing than continuous grazing in rep b but not in rep a. The average EVI of paddocks in rotational grazing systems only converged in the growing season-long drought year (2011). In other years, EVI values varied from year to year and no paddock consistently outperformed others. The variations in EVI among rotational grazing paddocks in both reps were relatively small, indicating that rotational grazing generated an even grazing pressure on vegetation at annual scale. Overall, climate and inherent pasture conditions were the major drivers of plant productivity. However, the stocking rate in continuous grazing systems were reduced over years because of deteriorating pasture conditions. Thus, the results indirectly indicate that rotational grazing improved grassland productivity and had higher stocking capacity than continuous grazing systems under variable climate conditions. Adaptive grazing management (adjustment in stocking rates and season of use to adapt to changing climatic conditions) instead of a fixed management system might be better for farmers to cooperate with changing climatic conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grassland Management for Sustainable Agroecosystems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Conservation of Soil Organic Carbon and Nitrogen Fractions in a Tallgrass Prairie in Oklahoma
Agronomy 2019, 9(4), 204; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9040204 - 20 Apr 2019
Abstract
Native grasslands in the Great Plains of North America have mostly disappeared in the past century due to agricultural expansion. A grazing study was established on Paleustolls and Argiustolls supporting a remnant, but historically grazed tallgrass prairie in central Oklahoma. Stocking method of [...] Read more.
Native grasslands in the Great Plains of North America have mostly disappeared in the past century due to agricultural expansion. A grazing study was established on Paleustolls and Argiustolls supporting a remnant, but historically grazed tallgrass prairie in central Oklahoma. Stocking method of beef cattle was differentiated into continuous and rotational treatments (10 sub-paddocks) in 2009 and these treatments continued until present. Soil was sampled in 2009 and 2012 at depths of 0–6, 6–12, 12–20, and 20–30 cm and in 2017 at depths of 0–15 and 15–30 cm. Total, particulate, microbial biomass, and mineralizable C and N fractions were highly stratified with depth, having 2–10 times greater concentration at a depth of 0–6 cm as that at 20–30 cm. Strong associations existed among most of these soil organic C and N fractions, given the large range that resulted from sampling at multiple depths. No discernable differences in soil organic C and N fractions occurred due to stocking method at any sampling time or depth. Evidence for biological nitrification inhibition suggested a mechanism for conservation of available N with less opportunity for loss. In addition, strong association of available N with biologically active C indicated slow, but sustained release of N that was strongly coupled to C cycling. We conclude that stocking method had a neutral effect on conservation of already high antecedent conditions of soil organic C and N fractions during the first 8 years of differentially imposed management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grassland Management for Sustainable Agroecosystems)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Open AccessArticle
Synergistic and Antagonistic Effects of Poultry Manure and Phosphate Rock on Soil P Availability, Ryegrass Production, and P Uptake
Agronomy 2019, 9(4), 191; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9040191 - 15 Apr 2019
Abstract
To maintain grassland productivity and limit resource depletion, scarce mineral P (phosphorus) fertilizers must be replaced by alternative P sources. The effect of these amendments on plant growth may depend on physicochemical soil parameters, in particular pH. The objective of this study was [...] Read more.
To maintain grassland productivity and limit resource depletion, scarce mineral P (phosphorus) fertilizers must be replaced by alternative P sources. The effect of these amendments on plant growth may depend on physicochemical soil parameters, in particular pH. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of soil pH on biomass production, P use efficiency, and soil P forms after P amendment application (100 mg kg−1 P) using poultry manure compost (PM), rock phosphate (RP), and their combination (PMRP). We performed a growth chamber experiment with ryegrass plants (Lolium perenne) grown on two soil types with contrasting pH under controlled conditions for 7 weeks. Chemical P fractions, biomass production, and P concentrations were measured to calculate plant uptake and P use efficiency. We found a strong synergistic effect on the available soil P, while antagonistic effects were observed for ryegrass production and P uptake. We conclude that although the combination of PM and RP has positive effects in terms of soil P availability, the combined effects of the mixture must be taken into account and further evaluated for different soil types and grassland plants to maximize synergistic effects and to minimize antagonistic ones. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grassland Management for Sustainable Agroecosystems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Modeling Carbon and Water Fluxes of Managed Grasslands: Comparing Flux Variability and Net Carbon Budgets between Grazed and Mowed Systems
Agronomy 2019, 9(4), 183; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9040183 - 10 Apr 2019
Abstract
The CenW ecosystem model simulates carbon, water, and nitrogen cycles following ecophysiological processes and management practices on a daily basis. We tested and evaluated the model using five years eddy covariance measurements from two adjacent but differently managed grasslands in France. The data [...] Read more.
The CenW ecosystem model simulates carbon, water, and nitrogen cycles following ecophysiological processes and management practices on a daily basis. We tested and evaluated the model using five years eddy covariance measurements from two adjacent but differently managed grasslands in France. The data were used to independently parameterize CenW for the two grassland sites. Very good agreements, i.e., high model efficiencies and correlations, between observed and modeled fluxes were achieved. We showed that the CenW model captured day-to-day, seasonal, and interannual variability observed in measured CO2 and water fluxes. We also showed that following typical management practices (i.e., mowing and grazing), carbon gain was severely curtailed through a sharp and severe reduction in photosynthesizing biomass. We also identified large model/data discrepancies for carbon fluxes during grazing events caused by the noncapture by the eddy covariance system of large respiratory losses of C from dairy cows when they were present in the paddocks. The missing component of grazing animal respiration in the net carbon budget of the grazed grassland can be quantitatively important and can turn sites from being C sinks to being neutral or C sources. It means that extra care is needed in the processing of eddy covariance data from grazed pastures to correctly calculate their annual CO2 balances and carbon budgets. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grassland Management for Sustainable Agroecosystems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Grassland Management Influences the Response of Soil Respiration to Drought
Agronomy 2019, 9(3), 124; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9030124 - 07 Mar 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Increasing soil carbon stocks in agricultural grasslands has a strong potential to mitigate climate change. However, large uncertainties around the drivers of soil respiration hinder our ability to identify management practices that enhance soil carbon sequestration. In a context where more intense and [...] Read more.
Increasing soil carbon stocks in agricultural grasslands has a strong potential to mitigate climate change. However, large uncertainties around the drivers of soil respiration hinder our ability to identify management practices that enhance soil carbon sequestration. In a context where more intense and prolonged droughts are predicted in many regions, it is critical to understand how different management practices will temper drought-induced carbon losses through soil respiration. In this study, we compared the impact of changing soil volumetric water content during a drought on soil respiration in permanent grasslands managed either as grazed by dairy cows or as a mowing regime. Across treatments, root biomass explained 43% of the variability in soil respiration (p < 0.0001). Moreover, analysis of the isotopic composition of CO2 emitted from the soil, roots, and root-free soil suggested that the autotrophic component largely dominated soil respiration. Soil respiration was positively correlated with soil water content (p = 0.03) only for the grazed treatment. Our results suggest that the effect of soil water content on soil respiration was attributable mainly to an effect on root and rhizosphere activity in the grazed treatment. We conclude that farm management practices can alter the relationship between soil respiration and soil water content. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grassland Management for Sustainable Agroecosystems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview
Drivers, Process, and Consequences of Native Grassland Degradation: Insights from a Literature Review and a Survey in Río de la Plata Grasslands
Agronomy 2019, 9(5), 239; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9050239 - 10 May 2019
Abstract
Natural grasslands are being progressively degraded around the world due to human-induced action (e.g., overgrazing), but there is neither a widely accepted conceptual framework to approach degradation studies nor a clear definition of what “grassland degradation” is. Most of the drivers, processes, and [...] Read more.
Natural grasslands are being progressively degraded around the world due to human-induced action (e.g., overgrazing), but there is neither a widely accepted conceptual framework to approach degradation studies nor a clear definition of what “grassland degradation” is. Most of the drivers, processes, and consequences related to grassland degradation are widespread and are usually separately quoted in the literature. In this paper, we propose a comprehensive framework with different conceptual categories, for monitoring grassland degradation, and a new definition based on current ones. We provide a conceptual update of grassland degradation based on a literature review and an expert survey, focused on the Río de la Plata grasslands (RPG). We identified “drivers” as external forces or changes that cause degradation; “processes” as measurable changes in grasslands conditions that can be evaluated using indicators; and “consequences” as the impacts or results of the process of grassland degradation. We expect that this conceptual framework will contribute to monitoring programs, to support management decisions, to design conservation measures, and to communicate the importance of grasslands conservation and the different concepts involved. Particularly for RPG, we expect that this paper will contribute to promote sustainable management practices in this important and often neglected ecosystem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grassland Management for Sustainable Agroecosystems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessReview
Tallgrass Prairie Responses to Management Practices and Disturbances: A Review
Agronomy 2018, 8(12), 300; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8120300 - 12 Dec 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Adoption of better management practices is crucial to lessen the impact of anthropogenic disturbances on tallgrass prairie systems that contribute heavily for livestock production in several states of the United States. This article reviews the impacts of different common management practices and disturbances [...] Read more.
Adoption of better management practices is crucial to lessen the impact of anthropogenic disturbances on tallgrass prairie systems that contribute heavily for livestock production in several states of the United States. This article reviews the impacts of different common management practices and disturbances (e.g., fertilization, grazing, burning) and tallgrass prairie restoration on plant growth and development, plant species composition, water and nutrient cycles, and microbial activities in tallgrass prairie. Although nitrogen (N) fertilization increases aboveground productivity of prairie systems, several factors greatly influence the range of stimulation across sites. For example, response to N fertilization was more evident on frequently or annually burnt sites (N limiting) than infrequently burnt and unburnt sites (light limiting). Frequent burning increased density of C4 grasses and decreased plant species richness and diversity, while plant diversity was maximized under infrequent burning and grazing. Grazing increased diversity and richness of native plant species by reducing aboveground biomass of dominant grasses and increasing light availability for other species. Restored prairies showed lower levels of species richness and soil quality compared to native remnants. Infrequent burning, regular grazing, and additional inputs can promote species richness and soil quality in restored prairies. However, this literature review indicated that all prairie systems might not show similar responses to treatments as the response might be influenced by another treatment, timing of treatments, and duration of treatments (i.e., short-term vs. long-term). Thus, it is necessary to examine the long-term responses of tallgrass prairie systems to main and interacting effects of combination of management practices under diverse plant community and climatic conditions for a holistic assessment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grassland Management for Sustainable Agroecosystems)
Back to TopTop