BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The Karoo biomes of South Africa are major feed resources for livestock farming, yet soil nutrient depletion and degradation is a major problem. The objective of this study was to assess impacts of long-term (>75 years) grazing during spring (SPG), summer (SUG), winter (WG) and exclosure (non-grazed control) treatments on soil nutrients, penetration resistance and infiltration tests. METHODS: A soil sampling campaign was carried out to collect soil to a depth of 60 cm to analyse bulk density, soil physical and chemical parameters as well as soil compaction and infiltration. RESULTS: Generally, grazing treatments reduced soil organic C (SOC) stocks and C:N ratios, and modified soil properties. There was higher SOC stock (0.128 Mg ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹) in the exclosure than in the SPG (0.096 Mg ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹), SUG (0.099 Mg ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹) and WG (0.105 Mg ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹). The C:N ratios exhibited similar pattern to that of C. From the grazing treatments, the WG demonstrated 7 to 10 % additional SOC stock over the SPG and SUG, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Short period animal exclusion could be an option to be considered to improve plant nutrients in sandy soils of South Africa. However, this may require a policy environment which supports stock exclusion from such areas vulnerable to land degradation, nutrient and C losses by grazing-induced vegetation and landscape changes.
Authors and Publishers
Talore, D. G.
Tesfamariam, Eyob H.
Du Toit, J. C. O.
Soussana, J. F.
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