Perennial Grass Covers Affect Long-Term Soil Qu...

Perennial Grass Covers Affect Long-Term Soil Quality

Perennial Grass Covers Affect Long-Term Soil Quality

The species composition of grassland communities is increasingly influenced by human activities, but the consequences of species changes on soil ecosystems remain poorly understood. This project investigated soil organic matter accumulations, soil respiration, and soil food webs in riparian grass filters on private farms in northern Story County, Iowa. Researchers compared soils beneath planted prairie grasses to soils beneath non-native forage grasses. Soil organic matter pools varied more between farms than among grassland types. Soil respiration rates were similar among old prairie-grass stands and long-established cool-season grasses. Soil food webs also were similar beneath the two grass types. Planting of native prairie species in filter strips is as effective as is planting non-native forage grasses, but provides greater grass production while perpetuating native species.

Three research papers associated with this project are:

"Soil Temperature, Not Aboveground Plant Productivity, Best Predicts Intra-Annual Variations of Soil Respiration in Central Iowa Grasslands" (Ecosystems, 9)

"Quantifying Fine-Root Decomposition: An Alternative to Buried Litterbags" (Ecology, 83)

"Soil respiration within riparian buffers and adjacent crop fields" (Plant and Soil, 229)

Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) LNC00-171, Perennial Grass Covers Affect Long-Term Soil Quality .

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This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.

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From the Field