Rotational Grazing Effects on Rangeland Vegetation at a Farm Scale
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CitationJacobo, E. J., Rodríguez, A. M., Bartoloni, N., & Deregibus, V. A. (2006). Rotational grazing effects on rangeland vegetation at a farm scale. Rangeland Ecology & Management, 59(3), 249-257.
PublisherSociety for Range Management
JournalRangeland Ecology & Management
AbstractWe evaluated the adequacy of rotational grazing to improve rangeland condition in the Flooding Pampa region, eastern Argentina, comparing the floristic composition dynamic of the 2 main plant communities under rotational and continuous grazing over a study period of 4 years (1993-1996). The experiment was conducted in commercial farms located in 4 sites of the Flooding Pampa region. In each site, a couple of farms, one managed under rotational grazing (implemented in 1989) and an adjacent one managed under continuous grazing at a similar stocking rate (1 AU ha-1), constituted the replications of the experiment. Basal cover of species, litter, and bare soil were monitored in midslope and lowland grassland communities on each farm. Total plant basal cover in midslope and in lowland communities remained unchanged over the whole experimental period under both grazing methods. Under rotational grazing, litter cover was higher in both communities while the amount of bare soil showed a significant reduction in lowlands and a tendency to be lower in midslope. Basal cover of legumes, C3 annual and C3 perennial grasses was higher, while cover of C4 prostrate grasses was lower under rotational grazing in the midslope community. In the lowland community, rotational grazing effects were evident only in the drier years, when higher cover of hydrophytic grasses and legumes and lower cover of forbs occurred. Plant species diversity did not change in response to grazing. In conclusion, rotational grazing promoted functional groups composed of high forage value species and reduced bare soil through the accumulation of litter. These changes indicate an improvement in rangeland condition and in carrying capacity. As the stocking rate was approximately 60% higher than the average stocking rate of the Flooding Pampa region, we believe that productivity and sustainability may be compatible by replacing continuous with rotational grazing.