Evans, C. R. W., Krzic, M., Broersma, K. and Thompson, D. J. 2012. Long-term grazing effects on grassland soil properties in southern British Columbia. Can. J. Soil Sci. 92: 685-693. Although grazing effects on soil properties have been evaluated on various temperate grasslands, no study has dealt with these effects in the southern interior of British Columbia. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of spring versus fall season grazing as well as grazing [at a moderate rate of 0.6 animal unit months (AUM) ha-1] versus non-grazing by beef cattle on selected soil properties. Effects were determined 20 and 30 yr after the establishment of the field experiment. Soil properties were determined for the 0- to 7.5-cm, 7.5- to 15-cm, and 15- to 30-cm depths. In comparison with fall grazing, spring grazing had greater soil bulk density, greater mechanical resistance within the top 15 cm of the soil profile, higher pH, and lower polysaccharides. This was true for both 20 and 30 yr of treatment. Grazing effects on aggregate stability were observed only after 30 yr with spring grazing leading to a more stable structure with a mean weight diameter (MWD) of 1.5 mm and 32% and 10% of aggregates in the 2- to 6-mm and 1- to 2-mm size fractions, respectively, compared with a MWD of 1.0 mm and 20% and 6% under fall grazing. Greater soil bulk density, mechanical resistance, and pH were observed under the grazed treatment relative to the control without grazing, but as we used a moderate stocking rate the impacts were not as great as in previous studies, which used heavy stocking rates. Our findings show that long-term grazing at a moderate stocking rate of 0.6 AUM ha-1 did not have critical detrimental effects on soil properties as some land managers and ranchers have suggested.
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Vol. 92 • No. 4