Managing cattle grazing intensity: Effects on soil organic matter and soil nitrogen

Moran Segoli, Steven Bray, Diane Allen, Ram Dalal, Ian Watson, Andrew Ash, Peter O'Reagain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Extensive cattle grazing is the dominant land use in northern Australia. It has been suggested that grazing intensity and rainfall have profound effects on the dynamics of soil nutrients in northern Australia's semi-arid rangelands. Previous studies have found positive, neutral and negative effects of grazing pressure on soil nutrients. These inconsistencies could be due to short-term experiments that do not capture the slow dynamics of some soil nutrients and the effects of interannual variability in rainfall. In a long-term cattle grazing trial in northern Australia on Brown Sodosol-Yellow Kandosol complex, we analysed soil organic matter and mineral nitrogen in surface soils (0-10cm depth) 11, 12 and 16 years after trial establishment on experimental plots representing moderate stocking (stocked at the long-term carrying capacity for the region) and heavy stocking (stocked at twice the long-term carrying capacity). Higher soil organic matter was found under heavy stocking, although grazing treatment had little effect on mineral and total soil nitrogen. Interannual variability had a large effect on soil mineral nitrogen, but not on soil organic matter, suggesting that soil nitrogen levels observed in this soil complex may be affected by other indirect pathways, such as climate. The effect of interannual variability in rainfall and the effects of other soil types need to be explored further.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-682
Number of pages6
JournalSoil Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Soil Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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