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Title: Short-duration rotational grazing leads to improvements in landscape functionality and increased perennial herbaceous plant cover
Contributor(s): Lawrence, Rachel  (author); Whalley, R D B  (author)orcid ; Reid, Nick  (author)orcid ; Rader, Romina  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2019-09-01
Early Online Version: 2019-05-14
DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2019.04.031
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Abstract: Livestock grazing can lead to reduced ground cover and altered composition of pastures through the loss of palatable forage species and reduced litter cover. This negatively impacts landscape function and ultimately livestock production. Grazing livestock for short periods with high animal density, followed by long rests to allow pasture recovery (short-duration grazing), could be a way to address these issues. In naturalised pastures, we assessed landscape functioning and compared the abundance of six major plant functional groups at 36 sites on 12 commercial grazing properties. Six of the properties had been managed with short-duration grazing for more than 7 years (in most cases over 10 years), while the six control properties were managed with grazing that was more typical of the region (relatively continuous throughout the year with unplanned rests). Under short-duration grazing, there was approximately 19% greater foliar cover of perennial herbaceous species with a corresponding 14% reduction in foliar cover of introduced annual plants. Attributes relating to biophysical functioning of the landscape were enhanced by short-duration grazing, with environmental factors less important in influencing these landscape function attributes. Higher-value forage species were also more abundant on short-duration grazing properties, especially at higher rainfall sites. Conversely, species that tend to increase under heavy grazing pressures, and are of lower forage value, were less abundant under short-duration grazing. Despite the changes in pasture composition in response to grazing management there was a large amount of unexplained variation in herbaceous community composition. This study demonstrates benefits for landscape function and naturalised pasture composition under short-duration grazing that has been in place for several years compared with more usual grazing practices.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, v.281, p. 134-144
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Place of Publication: Netherlands
ISSN: 1873-2305
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
070301 Agro-ecosystem Function and Prediction
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 410401 Conservation and biodiversity
300402 Agro-ecosystem function and prediction
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 960804 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
830403 Native and Residual Pastures
960811 Sparseland, Permanent Grassland and Arid Zone Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 180606 Terrestrial biodiversity
100503 Native and residual pastures
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Environmental and Rural Science

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