While northern temperate grasslands are important for supporting beef production, it remains unclear how grassland above- and belowground biomass responds to long-term cattle grazing. Here, we use a comprehensive dataset from 73 grasslands distributed across a broad agro-climatic gradient to quantify grassland shoot, litter, and shallow (top 30 cm) root biomass in areas with and without grazing. Additionally, we relate biomass to soil carbon (C) concentrations. Forb biomass was greater (p < 0.05) in grazed areas, particularly those receiving more rainfall. In contrast, grass and total aboveground herbage biomass did not differ with grazing (total: 2320 kg ha-1 for grazed vs. 2210 kg ha-1 for non-grazed; p > 0.05). Forb crude protein concentrations were lower (p < 0.05) in grazed communities compared with those that were non-grazed. Grasslands subjected to grazing had 56% less litter mass. Root biomass down to 30 cm remained similar between areas with (9090 kg ha-1) and without (7130 kg ha-1) grazing (p > 0.05). Surface mineral soil C concentrations were positively related to peak grassland biomass, particularly total (above + belowground) biomass, and with increasing forb biomass in grazed areas. Finally, total aboveground shoot biomass and soil C concentrations in the top 15 cm of soil were both positively related to the proportion of introduced plant diversity in grazed and non-grazed grasslands. Overall, cattle grazing at moderate stocking rates had minimal impact on peak grassland biomass, including above- and belowground, and a positive contribution exists from introduced plant species to maintaining herbage productivity and soil C.
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