Effect of Rancher’s Management Philosophy, Grazing Practices, and Personal Characteristics on Sustainability Indices for North Central Texas Rangeland Page: 14
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Scientific studies documenting hydrologic changes in rangelands are most often
associated with heavy grazing intensities, although these changes do not increase linearly with
grazing intensity (Naeth and Chanasyk, 1995). Increased stocking rates negatively affected
water infiltration into the soil (Abdel-Magid et al., 1987) and increased stream sedimentation
(Knight and Heightschmidt, 1987). The cause of the negative hydrological effect, as described
by Knight and Heightschmidt (1987), is changing surface factors such as aggregate stability,
surface roughness, litter cover, total grass and standing crop, combined with soil properties.
Likewise, Warren et al. (1986), found that increased stocking rates have negative effects on soil
properties (increased bulk density, disruption of biotic crust, reduced aggregate stability and
aggregate size distribution) due to physical effects on the soil and changes in the vegetation
towards dominance by lower seral plants. These effects are positively correlated with the
distribution and frequency of animal trampling. The same study indicated that managing for
grassland dominated by high seral plants improves hydrological function. Similarly, Pluhar et al.
(1987) found that infiltration increased and sediment production declined as vegetation standing
crop and cover increased.
Rest appears to be the key to soil hydrologic stability. In order to avoid long-term
progressive degradation, rest periods must be of sufficient length to allow full recovery of the
soil hydrologic condition prior to the reoccurrence of livestock impact. It seems logical that any
increase in stocking rate must, therefore, be accompanied by an increase in the length of the rest
period in order to compensate for the greater impact (Warren et al., 1986).
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Becker, Wayne. Effect of Rancher’s Management Philosophy, Grazing Practices, and Personal Characteristics on Sustainability Indices for North Central Texas Rangeland, dissertation, December 2011; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103289/m1/25/: accessed February 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .