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Effect of long-term cattle grazing on seasonal nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in range forage species in the fescue grassland of southwestern Alberta

Li, C., Hao, X., Willms, W.D., Zhao, M., Han, G. (2010). Effect of long-term cattle grazing on seasonal nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in range forage species in the fescue grassland of southwestern Alberta, 173(6), 946-951. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jpln.200900243

Abstract

Numerous studies have examined the nutritive quality of fodder plants in different seasons but few have related this seasonal response to long-term grazing intensity. Our objective was to examine the effect of long-term grazing on the concentrations of total nitrogen, δ15N, and total phosphorus in selected forage species from the fescue grassland near Stavely, Alberta. Plants were selected from paddocks that had been stocked at 0 (control), 2.4 (moderate grazing), and 4.8 (heavy grazing) animal unit months ha-1 for 58 years. Plant material from ten species was sampled and analyzed at monthly intervals from May to September in 2007. Total N and P concentrations were not (p > 0.05) affected by grazing for most species, but total N and P concentrations in Poa. pratensis L. were higher (p < 0.05) in grazed treatments than in the control. These results reflect an altered plant phenology through defoliation and illustrate delayed phenology in P. pratensis when grazed. The higher δ15N concentration for most species in the grazed treatments than the control is an indication of accelerated nitrogen cycling through dung and urine deposition. © 2010 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

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