University of California

Effects of Management on Plant Production and Nutrient Cycling on Two Annual Grassland Sites


D. Michael Center
Charles E. Vaughn
Milton B. Jones

Authors Affiliations

D. 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.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 57(1):1-40. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v57n01p040. February 1989.

PDF of full article, Cite this article


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.

Literature Cited

Arkley T. H. Sulfur compounds of soil systems 1961. Ph.D. Thesis, Univ. Calif., Berkeley

Barrow N. J. The accumulation of soil organic matter under pasture and its effect on soil properties. Aust. J. Exp. Agric. Anim. Husb. 1969. 9:437-44. DOI: 10.1071/EA9690437 [CrossRef]

Biddulph O., Steward F. C. Translocation of inorganic solutes. Plant Physiology. 1959. 2: New York: Academic Press. p. 553-603. ed.

Bingham F. T. Soil tests for phosphate. Calif. Agric. 1949. 3(8):11 14

Biswell H. K. Ecology of California grasslands. J. Range Manage. 1956. 9:19-24. DOI: 10.2307/3894645 [CrossRef]

Bremner J. M., Mulvaney C. S., Page A. L. Nitrogen-total. Methods of soil analysis, part 2. 1982. 9:2d ed Madison, Wisconsin: American Society of Agronomy. p. 595-624. ed. Agronomy

Brougham R. W. Leaf development in swards of white clover (Trifolium repens L.). N. Z. J. Agric. Res. 1958. 1:707-18. DOI: 10.1080/00288233.1958.10431579 [CrossRef]

Charley J. L., Sosebee R. E. Mineral cycling in rangeland ecosystems. Rangeland plant physiology. Science Series Number 4. 1977. Denver: Range Sci. Dept., Soc. Range Manage. p. 215-56.

Conrad J. P. Sulfur fertilization in California and some related factors. Soil Sci. 1950. 70:43-54. DOI: 10.1097/00010694-195007000-00006 [CrossRef]

Cromack K. Jr., Monk C. D., Adriano D. S., Bresbin I. L. Litter production, decomposition, and nutrient cycling in a mixed hardwood watershed and a white pine watershed. Environmental chemistry and cycling processes. 1975. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Energy. p. 605-21.

Denmead O. T., Freney J. R., Simpson J. R. A closed ammonia cycle within a plant canopy. J. Agric. Sci. 1976. 42:162-71.

Donald C. M. Competition among crop and pasture plants. Adv. Agron. 1963. 15:1-118. DOI: 10.1016/S0065-2113(08)60397-1 [CrossRef]

Freney J. R., Spencer K., Jones M. B. The diagnosis of sulphur deficiency in wheat. Aust. J. Agric. Res. 1978. 29:727-38. DOI: 10.1071/AR9780727 [CrossRef]

Freney J. R., Spencer K., Jones M. B. Cycling of nutrients in agricultural ecosystems. Agro-Ecosystems. 1977. 4:1-354. Frissel M. J. (Ed.) DOI: 10.1016/0304-3746(77)90003-8 [CrossRef]

George M., Clawson J., Menke J., Bartolome J. Annual grassland forage productivity. Rangelands. 1985. 7:17-19. DOI: 10.1071/RJ9850017 [CrossRef]

Gillingham A. G., Syers J. K., Gregg P. E. H. Phosphorus uptake and return in grazed steephill pastures. II. Above-ground components of the phosphorus cycle. N. Z. J. Agric. Res. 1980. 23:323-30. DOI: 10.1080/00288233.1980.10425363 [CrossRef]

Gray J. T. Nutrient use by evergreen and deciduous shrubs in southern California. I. Community nutrient cycling and nutrient-use efficiency. J. Ecology. 1983. 71:21-41. DOI: 10.2307/2259961 [CrossRef]

Hurlbert S. H. Pseudoreplication and the design of ecological field experiments. Ecol. Mono. 1984. 54:187-211. DOI: 10.2307/1942661 [CrossRef]

Jones M. B., Mays D. A. Fertilization of annual grasslands of California and Oregon. Forage fertilization. 1974. Madison, Wis.: Am. Soc. Agron. p. 255-75.

Jones M. B., Delwiche C. C., Williams W. A. Uptake and losses of 15N applied to annual grass and clover in lysimeters. Agron. J. 1977. 69:1019-23. DOI: 10.2134/agronj1977.00021962006900060028x [CrossRef]

Jones M. B., Martin W. E., Williams W. A. Behavior of sulfate sulfur and elemental sulfur in three California soils in lysimeters. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. Proc. 1968. 32:535-39. DOI: 10.2136/sssaj1968.03615995003200040033x [CrossRef]

Jones M. B., Street J. E., Williams W. A. Leaching and uptake of nitrogen applied to annual grass and clover-grass mixtures in lysimeters. Agron. J. 1974. 66:256-58. DOI: 10.2134/agronj1974.00021962006600020022x [CrossRef]

Jones M. B., Woodmansee R. G. Biogeochemical cycling in annual grassland ecosystems. Bot. Rev. 1979. 45:111-14. DOI: 10.1007/BF02860854 [CrossRef]

Katznelson J. Phosphorus in the soil-plant-animal ecosystem. Oecologia. 1977. 26:325-34. DOI: 10.1007/BF00345532 [CrossRef]

Kennedy R. K., Resser P. G. Preliminary network evaluation on methods of primary biomass estimation. Preliminary producer data synthesis, 1970 comprehensive sites. US/IBP Grassland Biome Tech. Rep. No 161. 1972. Fort Collins: Colo. State Univ. p. 30-46.

Kitson R. E., Mellow M. G. Colorimetric determination of phosphorus as molybdovanadophosphoric acid. Anal. Chem. 1944. 16:379-83.

Knudsen D., Petersen G. A., Pratt P. F., Page A. L. Lithium, sodium, and potassium. Agronomy. 1982. 9:2d ed Madison, Wis.: Am. Soc. Agron. p. 225-46. Methods of soil analysis, part 2

Loneragan J. F., Snowball K. Calcium requirements of plants. Aust. J. Agric. Res. 1969. 20:465-78. DOI: 10.1071/AR9690465 [CrossRef]

Marion G. M. Nutrient mineralization in Mediterranean-type ecosystems. Proceedings of the symposium on dynamics and management of Mediterranean-type ecosystems 1982. pp.313-20. eds. Conrad C. E. Oechel W. C. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-58. Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Exp. Sta., USDA, Forest Service

Martin W. E. Sulfur deficiency widespread. Calif. Agr. 1958. 12(11):10-12.

McKell C. M., Jones M. B., Perrier E. R. Root production and accumulation of root material on fertilized annual range. Agron. J. 1962. 54:459-64. DOI: 10.2134/agronj1962.00021962005400050026x [CrossRef]

McKell C. M., Wilson A. M., Jones M. B. A flotation method for easy separation of roots from soil samples. Agron. J. 1961. 53:56-57. DOI: 10.2134/agronj1961.00021962005300010022x [CrossRef]

McNaughton S. J. Structure and function in California grasslands. Ecology. 1968. 49:962-72. DOI: 10.2307/1936547 [CrossRef]

Metson A. J. Magnesium in New Zealand soils. I. Some factors governing the availability of soil magnesium: a review. N. Z. J. Exp. Agric. 1974. 2:277-319.

Mokwunye A. U., Melsted S. W. Magnesium forms in selected temperate and tropical soils. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. Proc. 1972. 36:762-64. DOI: 10.2136/sssaj1972.03615995003600050023x [CrossRef]

Molina J. A. E., Clapp C. E., Shaffer M. J., Chichester F. W., Larson W. E. NCSOIL, a model of nitrogen and carbon transformation in soil: description, calibration, and behavior. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 1983. 47:85-91. DOI: 10.2136/sssaj1983.03615995004700010017x [CrossRef]

Munz P. A., Keck D. D. California plant communities. El Aliso. 1949. 2:87-105.

Myrold D. D. Denitrification in ryegrass and winter wheat cropping systems of western Oregon. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 1988. 52:412-16. DOI: 10.2136/sssaj1988.03615995005200020019x [CrossRef]

Odum E. P. Organic production and turnover in old field succession. Ecology. 1960. 41:34-49. DOI: 10.2307/1931937 [CrossRef]

Ozanne P. G., Keay J., Biddiscombe E. F. The comparative applied phosphate requirements of eight annual pasture species. Aust. J. Agric. Res. 1969. 20:809-18. DOI: 10.1071/AR9690809 [CrossRef]

Parton W. J., Schimel D. S., Cole C. V., Ojima D. S. Analysis of factors controlling soil organic matter levels in Great Plains grasslands. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 1987. 51:1173-79. DOI: 10.2136/sssaj1987.03615995005100050015x [CrossRef]

Parton W. J., Stewart J. W. B., Cole C. V. Dynamics of C, N, P and S in grassland soils: a model. Biogeochem. 1988. 5:109-31. DOI: 10.1007/BF02180320 [CrossRef]

Pastor J., Bockheim J. G. Distribution and cycling of nutrients in an aspen-mixed hardwood-spodosol ecosystem in northern Wisconsin. Ecology. 1984. 65:339-53. DOI: 10.2307/1941398 [CrossRef]

Paul E. A., Juma N. G. Mineralization and immobilization of soil nitrogen by microorganisms. Ecol. Bull. Stockholm. 1981. 33:179-204. Terrestrial nitrogen cycles. Processes, ecosystem strategies and management impacts, eds. Clark F. E. Rosswall T

Pendleton D. W., Menke J. W., Williams W. A., Woodmansee R. G. Annual grassland ecosystem model. Hilgardia. 1983. 51(1):1-44. DOI: 10.3733/hilg.v51n01p044 [CrossRef]

Perrier G. K., Williams W. A., Menke J. W. Tarweed, an unloved annual-type range plant. Rangelands. 1982. 4:144-50.

Phillips D. A., Center D. M., Jones M. B. Nitrogen turnover and assimilation during regrowth in Trifolium subterraneum L. and Bromus mollis L. Plant Physiol. 1983. 71:472-74. DOI: 10.1104/pp.71.3.472 [CrossRef]

Phillips D. A., Jones M. B., Center D. M., Vaughn C. E. Estimating symbiotic nitrogen fixation by Trifolium subterraneum L. during regrowth. Agron. J. 1983. 75:736-41. DOI: 10.2134/agronj1983.00021962007500050005x [CrossRef]

Pitt M. D., Heady H. F. Responses of annual vegetation to temperature and rainfall patterns in northern California. Ecology. 1978. 59:336-50. DOI: 10.2307/1936378 [CrossRef]

Reisenauer H. M., McLachlan K. D. Soil assays for the recognition of sulphur deficiency. Sulphur in Australasian agriculture. 1975. Sydney, Australia: Sydney Univ. Press. p. 182-87.

Robson N. J. The growth and development of simulated swards of perennial ryegrass. I. Leaf growth and dry weight change as related to ceiling yield of a seedling sward. Ann. Bot. 1973. 37:387-500.

Savelle G. D. Comparative structure and function in a California annual and native bunchgrass community 1977. Ph.D. Thesis. Univ. Calif., Berkeley

Schlesinger W. H., Hasey M. M. Decomposition of chaparral shrub foliage: losses of organic and inorganic constituents from deciduous and evergreen leaves. Ecology. 1981. 62:762-74. DOI: 10.2307/1937744 [CrossRef]

Sharpley A. N. Phosphorus cycling in unfertilized and fertilized agricultural soils. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 1985. 49:905-11. DOI: 10.2136/sssaj1985.03615995004900040023x [CrossRef]

Sharpley A. N. Disposition of fertilizer phosphorus applied to winter wheat. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 1986. 50:953-58. DOI: 10.2136/sssaj1986.03615995005000040025x [CrossRef]

Sharpley A. N., Jones C. A., Gray C., Cole C. V. A simplified soil and plant phosphorus model: II. Prediction of labile, organic, and sorbed phosphorus. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 1984. 48:805-09. DOI: 10.2136/sssaj1984.03615995004800040021x [CrossRef]

Shock C. C., Jones M. B., Williams W. A., Center D. M. Competition for S and N by associations of three annual range species in lysimeters. Plant Soil. 1984. 81:311-21. DOI: 10.1007/BF02323046 [CrossRef]

Shock C. C., Williams W. A., Jones M. B., Center D. M., Phillips D. A. Nitrogen fixation by subclover associations fertilized with sulfur. Plant Soil. 1984. 81:323-32. DOI: 10.1007/BF02323047 [CrossRef]

Simpson J. R. The transference of nitrogen from pasture legumes to an associated grass under several systems of management in culture. Aust. J. Agric Res. 1965. 16:915-26. DOI: 10.1071/AR9650915 [CrossRef]

Simpson J. R. Transfer of nitrogen from three pasture legumes under periodic defoliation in a field experiment. Aust. J. Exp. Ag. Anim. Husb. 1976. 16:863-70. DOI: 10.1071/EA9760863 [CrossRef]

Singh J. S., Lauenroth W. K., Steinhorst R. K. Review and assessment of various techniques for estimating net aerial primary production in grasslands from harvest data. Bot. Rev. 1975. 41:181-232. DOI: 10.1007/BF02860829 [CrossRef]

Stinner B. R., Odum E. P., Crossley D. A. Jr. Nutrient uptake by vegetation in relation to other ecosystem processes in conventional tillage, no-tillage, and an old field system. Agric., Ecosystems, Environ. 1983. 10:1-13. DOI: 10.1016/0167-8809(83)90064-6 [CrossRef]

Stinner B. R., Crossley D. A. Jr., Odum E. P., Todd R. L. Nutrient budgets and internal cycling of N, P, K, Ca, and Mg in conventional tillage, no-tillage, and old field ecosystems on the Georgia piedmont. Ecology. 1984. 65:354-69. DOI: 10.2307/1941399 [CrossRef]

Tabatabai M. A., Bremner J. M. A simple turbidimetric method of determining total sulfur in plant materials. Agron. J. 1970. 62:805-06. DOI: 10.2134/agronj1970.00021962006200060038x [CrossRef]

Tiesen H., Stewart J. W. B., Bethany J. R. Cultivation effects on amounts and concentrations of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in grassland soils. Agron. J. 1982. 71:831-35. DOI: 10.2134/agronj1982.00021962007400050015x [CrossRef]

Van Hook R. I. Jr. Energy and nutrient dynamics of spider and orthopteron populations in a grassland ecosystem. Ecol. Monogr. 1971. 41:1-26. DOI: 10.2307/1942433 [CrossRef]

Varian Techtron. Analytical methods for flame spectroscopy. 1972. Melbourne, Australia: Varian Techtron Property, Ltd.

Vaughn C. E., Murphy A. H. Long-term effects of fertilization and subclover seeding on northern California annual range. J. Range Manage. 1982. 35:92-95. DOI: 10.2307/3898529 [CrossRef]

Vaughn C. E., Center D. M., Jones M. B. Seasonal fluctuations in nutrient availability in some northern California annual range soils. Soil Sci. 1986. 141:43-51. DOI: 10.1097/00010694-198601000-00008 [CrossRef]

Whitehead D. C. The role of nitrogen in grassland productivity. Bull. No. 48. Farnham Royal, Bucks. 1970. England: Commonwealth Agric. Bureau.

Whittaker R. H., Likens G. E., Bormann F. H., Eaton J. S., Siccama T. G. The Hubbard Brook ecosystem study: Forest nutrient cycling and element behavior. Ecology. 1979. 60:203-20. DOI: 10.2307/1936481 [CrossRef]

Woodmansee R. G., Duncan D. A. Nitrogen and phosphorus dynamics and budgets in annual grasslands. Ecology. 1980. 61:893-904. DOI: 10.2307/1936759 [CrossRef]

Woodmansee R. G., Dodd J. L., Bowman R. A., Clark F. E., Dickenson E. E. Nitrogen budget of a shortgrass prairie ecosystem. Oecologia (Berlin). 1978. 34:363-76. DOI: 10.1007/BF00344913 [CrossRef]

Center D, Vaughn C, Jones M. 1989. Effects of Management on Plant Production and Nutrient Cycling on Two Annual Grassland Sites. Hilgardia 57(1):1-40. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v57n01p040
Webmaster Email: sjosterman@ucanr.edu