Little is known on how management of Russian native grasslands affects botanical composition, soil and forage properties. Three fields were sampled in the V.V. Alekhin Central-Chernozem Biosphere State Reserve in the Kursk region of Russia: a native grassland (not cultivated for at least 300 years), a grazed/hay field with 4 years of annual harvest followed by 1 year of rest (periodically-cut grazed/hay field), and a yearly-cut grazed/hay field. Soil samples were collected from the top 10 cm and analyzed. Plant species were identified at the sampling sites and this plant material was used to determine total elemental analysis of forage, crude protein (CP), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), acid detergent fiber (ADF), in vitro true digestibility (IVTD) and lignin concentrations. Above-ground live and dead plant material and roots were analyzed for C, N and lignin. Soil sample analysis showed that fields were comparable in terms of soil chemical and physical properties. SOC and N contents were not statistically different in the native and yearly grazed/hay fields. Soil bulk density significantly increased as a result of utilization, from 0.804±0.09 Mg m-3 for the native grassland to 0.97±0.06 Mg m-3 for the yearly grazed/hay field. A total of 107 different plant species were recorded at the three fields. There were changes in plant composition among the fields. The native grassland field had the least number of plant species (41) followed by the yearly-cut grazed/hay field (68), and the periodically-cut grazed/hay field (87). There was a greater proportion of grass species (20%) in the native grassland field. Dead plant biomass and roots from the grazed/hay fields were higher in N and lignin concentrations. Forage mineral concentration was highest in the periodically-cut hay field. No significant differences were observed in terms of forage properties. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Agronomy and Crop Science