A 5 yr (2011–2015) field study was conducted to test the hypothesis that streambank fencing had a significant effect on selected vegetation and soil properties of the Mixed prairie component of a complex corridor pasture. The grazing treatments [ungrazed (UG) – periodic grazing (PG)] inside the corridor pasture were 11 yr (2001–2012) of cattle exclusion (UG), followed by 3 yr (2013–2015) of periodic grazing (PG) when the riparian soil was dry. A control treatment outside the fencing was continuous grazing (CG). Selected vegetation and soil properties were measured over the growing season at 10 paired locations in each treatment (nonreplicated) pasture over 5 yr (2011–2015), and rangeland health was measured in 2011. The UG–PG treatment significantly (P ≤ 0.10) increased the total biomass by 2- to 5-fold in all 5 yr compared with CG treatment and improved the rangeland health score of the UG phase of the UG–PG (63%) treatment compared with the CG treatment (50%) in 2011. It also significantly reduced surface soil temperature by 2.2–5.2 °C, significantly increased volumetric water content of the surface soil by 7%–10% in 3 of 5 yr, and significantly increased surface soil CO2 efflux (instantaneous) by 17%–60% in all 5 yr. Overall, the UG–PG treatment improved rangeland health, increased total biomass, soil water, and soil CO2 efflux of the Mixed prairie, but decreased soil temperature compared with the CG treatment. Excessive dead biomass, greater fire risk, and an increase in noxious weeds caused by cattle exclusion suggested that periodic grazing may be the preferred option.
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