Background. Measurement of two grazing management's influence on pasture productivity, soil food web structure, soil organic carbon and soil microbial respiration efficiency was conducted on five southeastern US, across-the-fence ranch pairs to compare adaptive multi-paddock grazing (AMP) management, using short grazing events with planned, adaptive recovery periods, to conventional grazing (CG) management, with continuous grazing at low stock density. Methodology. A point-in-time experimental field analysis was conducted to compare five AMP or CG ranch pairs to better understand the influence of grazing management on (a) standing crop biomass productivity; (b) soil food web community population, structure and functionality; (c) soil organic carbon accrual; and d) soil-C (CO2) respiration kinetics. Results. AMP grazing systems outperformed CG systems by generating: (a) 92.68 g m−2 more standing crop biomass (SCB), promoting 46% higher pasture photosynthetic capacity (Two sample Mann-Whitney; Z = 6.1836; no DF in MW; p = 6.26 × 10−10; Effect size = 0.35) (b) a strong positive linear relationship of SCB with fungal biomass (R = 0.9915; F(1,3) = 175.35; p = 0.015); fungal to bacterial (F:B) biomass ratio (R = 0.9616; F(1,3) = 36.75; p = 0.009) and a soil food web proxy (R = 0.9616; F(1,3) = 36.75; p = 0.009) and a concurrent very strong inverse relationship with bacteria biomass (R = −0.946; F(1,3) = 25.56; p = 0.015); (c) significant predator/prey interactions with an inverse relationship with bacterial population biomass (R = −0.946; F(1,3) = 25.56; p = 0.015) and a positive relationship with total protozoa enumeration (R = 0.9826; F(1,3) = 83.68; p = 0.003) when compared to SCB; (d) a 19.52% reduction in soil C (CO2) respiration rates (Two sample t-test; T = −2.3581; DF = 52.3541; p = 0.0221; Effect size = 0.59); and (e) a 20.6% increase in soil organic carbon (SOC) in the top 10 cm of soil profile (Two sample Mann-Whitney; Z = 2.6507; no DF in MW; p = 0.008; Effect size = 0.24). Rancher conversion to AMP grazing strategies would appear to regenerate soil food web population, structure, diversity and biological functionality helping to improve: carbon flow into plant biomass, buildup of soil carbon, predator/prey nutrient cycling and soil microbial respiration efficiency while offering improved climate resilience and a strategy to increase the capture and storage of atmospheric CO2 in soils of the world's rangeland.
- AMP grazing
- Carbon sequestration
- Soil fertility & health
- Soil food web
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)