Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cattle Can Help Restore Degraded Soil

06.01.2011
Soil degradation is a common result of decades of field plowing and often the depleted land reverts back to forests and pastures. The soil in these discarded plots is robbed of nutrients and organic matter.

A study funded by the USDA – Agriculture Research Service has tested cattle grazing on degraded soil to determine if the activity would have any effect on restoring depleted nutrients. During a 12 year period, 18 paddocks were used to monitor the soils response to different land management practices.

In the end, the paddocks with medium to heavy grazing proved to be the best way to sequester nitrogen and carbon in the soil. Nitrogen and carbon soil sequestration improve soil fertility and reduces the emissions of greenhouse gases.

“Land owners need guidance on whether keeping the land unused is the best way to restore degraded soils or whether allowing cattle to graze on it is a viable option,” says Alan Franzluebbers, the author of the study and an ecologist with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service at the J. Phil Campbell Sr. Natural Resource Conservation Center in Watkinsville, GA.

Franzluebbers and his team of researchers used four different management techniques to arrive at their conclusion. Paddocks were either moderately grazed, averaging 5.8 steers per hectare; heavily grazed, with 87 steers per hectare; not grazed, but the grass was cut and used for hay; or not grazed or harvested.

Land that was unused and not harvested had the highest surface residue accumulation, which is essential to prevent erosion, but it did not sequester carbon and nitrogen as well as grazing. Land that was not grazed but harvested for hay resulted in little nutrient retention and was prone to erosion.

In recent years, the sentiment has been that letting land go unused was more environmentally responsible than having cattle graze on it. Franzluebbers evidence discredits this assumption.

“From an environmental standpoint, grazing has traditionally been viewed as less desirable than leaving the land unused. However these results demonstrate that if producers allow cattle to moderately graze pastures, they’ll be restoring soil quality and cutting greenhouse gases by keeping carbon in the soil as organic matter rather than releasing it into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide,” he says.

The study is available in the November/December 2010 issue of Soil Science Society of America Journal.

The full article is available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary. View the abstract at www.soils.org/publications/sssaj/abstracts/74/2/347.

Soil Science Society of America Journal, www.soils.org/publications/sssaj, is a peer-reviewed international journal published six times a year by the Soil Science Society of America. Its contents focus on research relating to physics; chemistry; biology and biochemistry; fertility and plant nutrition; genesis, morphology, and classification; water management and conservation; forest, range, and wildland soils; nutrient management and soil and plant analysis; mineralogy; and wetland soils.

The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is a progressive, international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils. Based in Madison, WI, SSSA is the professional home for 6,000+ members dedicated to advancing the field of soil science. It provides information about soils in relation to crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use.

SSSA supports its members by providing quality research-based publications, educational programs, certifications, and science policy initiatives via a Washington, DC, office. Founded in 1936, SSSA celebrates its 75th Anniversary this year (2011). For more information, visit www.soils.org or follow @SSSA_soils on Twitter.

Sara Uttech | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.sciencesocieties.org
http://www.soils.org

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Kakao in Monokultur verträgt Trockenheit besser als Kakao in Mischsystemen
18.09.2017 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

nachricht Ultrasound sensors make forage harvesters more reliable
28.08.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The fastest light-driven current source

Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.

Graphene is up to the job

Im Focus: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nerves control the body’s bacterial community

26.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Four elements make 2-D optical platform

26.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Goodbye, login. Hello, heart scan

26.09.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>