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10 June 2019 Influence of Precipitation on Plant Production at Different Topographic Positions in the Nebraska Sandhills
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Abstract

Several studies have evaluated the spatial distribution of cool- and warm-season grasses across different topographic positions in the Nebraska Sandhills, but limited research has explored topographic differences in total plant production or production of plant functional groups in relation to variable amounts of precipitation. This study evaluated how spring and growing season precipitation influenced plant production at four topographic positions common in the eastern Nebraska Sandhills. Plant production data were collected from annually moved grazing exclosures in mid-June (peak cool-season grass production) and mid-August (peak warm-season grass production) during a 17-yr period from 2001 to 2017. Total plant production and precipitation use efficiency were 35 - 58% greater on interdune positions, and precipitation marginal response for total plant production was more sensitive to increases in spring and growing season precipitation on interdune compared with dune positions in both mid-June and mid-August. The greater precipitation marginal response of total plant production on interdune positions was driven primarily by greater increases in cool-season grass production with increasing spring or growing season precipitation. Warm-season grass precipitation marginal response was not different among the topographic positions, but production was 23 - 70% greater on interdune compared with dune topographic positions in mid-August. When differences in the amount of each topographic position at the study location were accounted for, growing season precipitation explained 49% of the variation for total plant production in mid-August, but spring precipitation only explained 23% of the variation for total plant production in mid-June. Because of the differential response of plant production at dune and interdune positions, incorporating the relative amount of each topographic position into estimates of plant production at the pasture or ranch scale will provide better information for adjusting stocking rates to more accurately match animal demand with forage availability.

© 2018 The Society for Range Management. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Mitchell B. Stephenson , Jerry D. Volesky , Walter H. Schacht , Nevin C. Lawrence , Jon Soper , and Jessica Milby "Influence of Precipitation on Plant Production at Different Topographic Positions in the Nebraska Sandhills," Rangeland Ecology and Management 72(1), 103-111, (10 June 2019). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rama.2018.09.001
Received: 23 March 2018; Accepted: 4 September 2018; Published: 10 June 2019
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