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Soil Macronutrient Responses in Diverse Landscapes of Southern Tallgrass to Two Stocking Methods.

Northup, B. K., Starks, P. J., & Turner, K. E. . 2019.


Macronutrient (N, P, S, K, Ca, and Mg) availability and distribution in soils of grassland ecosystems are affected by diverse factors, including landscape position, climate, and forms of management. This study examined flux in plant-available macronutrients in production-scale (60 to 80 ha) paddocks of southern tallgrass prairie of central Oklahoma, United States, managed (2009-15) under two contrasting stocking methods (continuous yearlong; rotational stocking among 10 sub-paddocks). Macronutrient availability within the 0- 7.5 cm and 7.5- 15 cm soil depths were determined with sets of anion-cation exchange membrane probes at 16 locations within paddocks, oriented along transects from water sources to far corners. No clear overall effect related to stocking method was recorded for all macronutrient distributions. The only significant stocking method × location interaction occurred for K (p = 0.01). All other macronutrients displayed significant (p < 0.08) location effects that were common across stocking methods. Effects relatable to stocking method occurred in interactions with soil depth or time of year (p < 0.10), but responses of macronutrient flux to stocking method in these interactions varied. Higher flux occurred in available S, Ca, and Mg in proximity (<24 m) to water sources, which may be related to grazing, but local features of the landscape may also have been involved. More attention to landscape features included within paddocks, and standardized organization of water and other features within paddocks, would improve the potential to define grazing effects on macronutrient distribution.

Key Words

exchange membranes; grazing management; soil macronutrients