Influence Of Grazing On Erodibility

Soil structure is the arrangement of soil particles and intervening pore spaces. The degree to which soil particles are bound to each other (aggregation), and the stability of those aggregates when subjected to kinetic energy (associated with water, wind, and physical impacts caused by animals and machinery) determine the susceptibility of soil particles to being detached and transported off the site. The formation of soil aggregates is aided by any action that mixes the soil, thereby promoting contact between decomposing organic matter and inorganic soil particles. Soil mixing occurs as a result of burrowing by microorganisms, insects, and mammals; root growth; wetting and drying; freezing and thawing; and soil churning by hooves or farm implements.

Herbivory has the potential to influence the composition of the vegetation community and the amount of organic matter returned to the soil. Regardless of the type of grazing system, moderate or light grazing has little impact on the vegetation community, soil structure, and erosion.[1] Heavy grazing usually results in a decrease in organic matter being available for enhancement of soil structure. Furthermore, bunchgrasses tend to be harmed by heavy grazing, which leads to an increase in short grasses or annuals (which usually results in a long-term decrease in soil organic matter, structure, and microbial activity).[2'3]

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