Soil compaction by grazing livestock in silvopastures as evidenced by changes in soil physical properties
Sharrow, Steven H.
Livestock, pasture, and timber trees are intimately interrelated in silvopastures. Most silvopasture research to date has focused on forage/animal/tree interactions, with less attention paid to animal/soil interactions in silvopastures. While a considerable body of work has been devoted to understanding the effects of livestock trampling on plants and soils in pastures, less has been done for livestock grazing in forests, and even less is available for silvopastures. Three replications of Douglas-fir forest, Douglas-fir/subclover pasture/sheep silvopasture, and subclover/sheep pasture were established in 1989 near Corvallis, Oregon USA. Pastures and silvopastures were grazed each spring during 1990-2001. These plots were sampled in 2002, after 11 years of grazing, and again in 2004 following 2 years without grazing. Soil in the silvopastures had 13% higher bulk density and 7% lower total porosity than those in adjacent forests in 2002. Most of the difference in total porosity was air-filled pores. Average water infiltration rate was 38% less in silvopastures than in forests, however total water stored in the top 6 cm of soil at field capacity was similar. Soil bulk density, total porosity, and air-filled pore space was similar for forests, pastures, and silvopastures after 2 years without livestock grazing. The infiltration rate of silvopasture soils in 2004 had increased to be similar to those of forests in 2002, however, forest soil infiltration rates also increased and continued to be higher than those of silvopastures. Plant production was not sensitive to changes in any of the soil parameters measured. Although livestock grazing did change soil infiltration rates, soil bulk density, and soil porosity, the effects were quickly reversed following cessation of grazing and had little detrimental effect on silvopasture forage or tree production.Show more [+] Less [-]