Main content area

Rotational grazing and exclosure improves grassland condition of the halophytic steppe in Flooding Pampa (Argentina) compared with continuous grazing

Vecchio, María Cristina, Bolaños, V. A., Golluscio, R. A., Rodríguez, A. M.
The Rangeland journal 2019 v.41 no.1 pp. 1-12
continuous grazing, forage quality, grasses, grazing management, grazing systems, halophytes, meadows, pastoralism, rangeland degradation, rangelands, rotational grazing, soil, species richness, steppes, summer, vegetation structure, winter, Argentina
The most common grazing management applied on rangelands is continuous grazing. However, it can cause negative changes in vegetation structure and ecosystem functioning, leading to rangeland degradation. In Flooding Pampa rangelands, scientific evidence in favour of rotational over continuous grazing was developed on the humid mesophytic meadow and the humid prairie communities, but not on the halophytic steppe community. We evaluated the changes in species composition, richness and diversity, vegetation and litter cover, functional group composition and forage quality during 8 years in halophytic steppe subjected to both continuous or rotational grazing, and exclusion from grazing. Grazing exclusion and a rotational grazing system caused significant changes in the vegetation structure compared with continuous grazing. These treatments increased vegetation and litter cover, the contribution of summer and annual and perennial winter grasses, all them of high forage value, and encouraged the appearance of several grasses adapted to fertile, well drained and non-saline soils. Because of these structural changes, species richness, diversity and pastoral value increased in the halophytic steppe of the Flooding Pampa, in a manner previously demonstrated in other grassland communities of this region.