Effects of Management on Plant Production and Nutrient Cycling on Two Annual Grassland Sites
AuthorsD. Michael Center
Charles E. Vaughn
Milton B. Jones
Authors AffiliationsD. Michael Center was Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Agronomy and Range Science, University of California, Davis, at the time of this research; Charles E. Vaughn was (corresponding author) is Staff Research Associate, UC Hopland Field Station, 4070 University Road, Hopland, CA 95449; Milton B. Jones was Agronomist, Department of Agronomy and Range Science, UC Davis, stationed at Hopland.
Hilgardia 57(1):1-40. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v57n01p040. February 1989.
Nutrient (nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, potassium, and calcium) dynamics and primary productivity were compared in adjacent sheep-grazed and ungrazed and adjacent subclover-seeded and unseeded annual grassland ecosystems. Above-ground and belowground total plant biomass and nutrient concentrations were measured monthly for two years, and nutrient content of various ecosystem components determined. Nutrient budgets were also developed to compare the effects of the grazing and seeding management practices.
Exclusion of sheep grazing had little effect on the system variables we measured. There were only slight differences between the grazed and ungrazed pastures in aboveground and belowground biomass production and nutrient uptake in either year. There were no substantive between-site differences in nutrient transfers. Subclover growth, accompanied with biennial P and S fertilization, resulted in very large increases in biomass production and much larger flows of all nutrients in both years. The largest nutrient fluxes on all sites were the transfers of mineralized nutrients through the soil available pool to live plants during the growing season. Most of this actively cycling nutrient supply was stored in standing dead material and litter, and was thus retained against leaching between growing seasons. The subsequent fate of these nutrients was then determined by new plant uptake and leaching demands, which showed much annual variation.
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