• Harbage Production Following Litter Removal on Alberta Native Grasslands

      Willms, W. D.; Smoliak, S.; Bailey, A. W. (Society for Range Management, 1986-11-01)
      Studies were conducted to determine the effects on herbage yield of removing mulch and standing dead plant litter during dormancy for up to 3 or more consecutive years. This information is required to obtain a better understanding of the implications of dormant season grazing on forage production. In 2 studies, mulch and standing litter were harvested at 3 or more annual frequencies from 2 × 2 m plots. One study was repeated in both the Fescue Prairie and Mixed Prairie communities and plant response was measured annually as the yield of herbage produced from treated and control plots. The second study was conducted in the Fescue Prairie on 3 sites and designed as a 3 × 3 Latin square. The treatments consisted of removing mulch and standing litter, removing and replacing this material, and a control. Estimates were made of the yield, species composition, and morphological characteristics of the grass. A third study was made, in the Fescue Prairie, by defoliating individual rough fescue (Festuca scabrella Torr. var. major Vasey) plants a single time, at 5 and 15 cm above ground, and comparing them with a control. Herbage yields decreased as the annual frequency of mulch and litter harvests increased in the Mixed Prairie but not in the Fescue Prairie. In the Mixed Prairie, yields declined to 43% of the control after 3 years of treatment. Removing mulch and standing litter from rough fescue plants resulted in shorter but a greater number of tillers than in the control. The results were similar after 1 or 3 years of treatment.