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1 March 2012 Stocking Rate and Riparian Vegetation Effects on Physical Characteristics of Riparian Zones of Midwestern Pastures
Douglas A. Bear, James R. Russell, Mustafa Tufekcioglu, Thomas M. Isenhart, Daniel G. Morrical, John L. Kovar
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Abstract

Grazing at high stocking rates may increase sediment and nutrient loading of pasture streams through transport in precipitation runoff and bank erosion. A 3-yr (2007–2009) grazing study was conducted on 13 cool-season grass pastures to quantify effects of stocking rate and botanical composition on forage sward height, proportions of bare and manure-covered ground, and bank erosion adjacent to streams. Pastures ranged from 2 ha to 107 ha with stream reaches of 306 m to 1 778 m that drained watersheds of 253 ha to 5 660 ha. Bare and manure-covered ground were measured at a 15.2-m distance perpendicular to the stream at 30.5-m intervals at up to 30 locations on each side of the stream by the line transect method in May, July, September, and November of each year. At the midpoint of the 15.2-m line, forage sward height was measured with a falling plate meter (4.8 kg · m−2) and plant species identified. In November 2006, fiberglass pins (1.6 × 76.2 cm) were driven 73.7 cm into the stream bank at 1-m intervals from the streambed to the top of the bank along 10 equidistant transect locations on each side of the stream to measure bank erosion during spring, summer, and fall of each year. Increasing pasture stocking rates increased manure-covered ground and decreased sward height, but did not affect proportions of bare ground. The greatest, intermediate, and least net soil erosion rates occurred during the winter/early spring, late spring/early summer, and late summer/fall seasons. Stocking rates between measurements, expressed as cow-days · m−1 stream, were not related to bank erosion. Increasing stocking rates per unit of stream length will increase manure cover and decrease forage sward height, but not affect proportions of bare ground or bank erosion rates adjacent to pasture streams. Therefore, managing stocking rates may reduce nutrient loading of pasture streams.

Society for Range Management
Douglas A. Bear, James R. Russell, Mustafa Tufekcioglu, Thomas M. Isenhart, Daniel G. Morrical, and John L. Kovar "Stocking Rate and Riparian Vegetation Effects on Physical Characteristics of Riparian Zones of Midwestern Pastures," Rangeland Ecology and Management 65(2), 119-128, (1 March 2012). https://doi.org/10.2111/REM-D-11-00133.1
Received: 25 July 2011; Accepted: 1 November 2011; Published: 1 March 2012
JOURNAL ARTICLE
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KEYWORDS
cover
grazing
stream bank erosion
sward height
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