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Grazing Effect on Soil Properties in Dry Subtropic Steppes of Azerbaijan

Ganieva, S. A., Dyunyamalieva, N. Ya., Ramazanova, F. M.
Arid ecosystems 2019 v.9 no.3 pp. 174-178
arid zones, clay, ecosystems, grazing, humus, humus horizons, nitrogen content, organic carbon, pastures, phosphorus, potassium, soil structure, steppes, topsoil, vegetation cover, water stable soil aggregates, Azerbaijan
The article presents changes in the morphological and diagnostic parameters of gray-brown soils of dry steppes under the effect of grazing on a reserve and with regulated and free grazing. It has been revealed that, in comparison with the reserve regime, long-term intensive free grazing on gray-brown soils of dry steppes resulted in a 50–55% decrease in the projective vegetation cover, a poorer (loose) soil structure, compaction, and a 9.45% decrease in humus content and a 6.07% decrease in organic carbon content in the top horizon. The thickness of the humus horizon decreased by about 50%. There was a twofold decrease in the nitrogen content, while the drop in available phosphorus and potassium compounds was relatively smaller. The physical and mechanical soil properties also worsened: soil compactness in the 0–10-cm layer dropped by 0.13%, valuable clay particles were washed from the topsoil, the soil structure became more powdery, and the content of valuable water-stable aggregates and their water resistance decreased. The goal of the study is to develop more efficient pasture use for grazing in dry steppes.