The influence of trampling by small ruminants on soil fertility in semi-arid rangelands

Amir Mor-Mussery, Hiam Abu-Glaion, Shimshon Shuker, Eli Zaady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Trampling, vegetation harvesting, and excrement spreading are the means by which ruminants interact with the ecosystem. Several mechanisms were described for the influence of vegetation harvesting and excrement spreading on the ecosystem, whereas the influence of trampling is poorly understood. The goal of the present study was to determine the influence of trampling by small ruminants on the ecosystem. The study took place in 2018 and 2019 in the north-western Negev. Each plot included a fenced control-enclosure subplot that is protected from grazing; its remaining area was grazed by a controlled sheep flock. The findings indicate that the crumbling of the surface soil and its mixing with the vegetation, caused by trampling, increased litter production six- to nine-fold compared with the control. The plant litter was better composted by two- to seven times, and its lignin and protein contents were increased by 10%. We suggest that the findings indicate the positive influence of trampling by small ruminants in enhancing soil fertility, even under arid climatic conditions and loamy soil. Nevertheless, a further experimental study is needed, in additional experimental sites, in order to work out practical guidelines for the farmers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-197
Number of pages9
JournalArid Land Research and Management
Volume35
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Trampling physical forces
  • litter and soil organic matter
  • litter and standing herbaceous biomass ratio
  • litter nutrient content
  • small ruminants grazing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science

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