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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Effects of Snowmobile Traffic on Several Forage Species and Winter Wheat1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 69 No. 5, p. 769-772
    Received: Nov 22, 1976

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  1. D. K. Ryerson,
  2. D. A. Schlough,
  3. C. L. Foresman,
  4. G. H. Tenpas and
  5. J. W. Pendleton2



Experiments to determine the effects of snowmobile traffic on plant species, frequently grown in heavy snow-belt regions, were conducted over 3 years in northern Wisconsin. Plant species tested during the trials were: alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.); birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.); red clover (Trifolium pratense L.); bromegrass (Bromus inermis Leyss.); orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.); and winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L,). The soil is classified as a Typic Eutroboralf, very fine Illitic (mixed). Designated areas of each crop species received varying amounts of snowmobile traffic when snow depths were > 7.5 cm. Soil temperatures, snow compaction, and frost depths were measured. Forage dry matter or grain yields were taken during the following summer. Soil bulk density was determined during two growing seasons as a measure of soil compaction.

Stands of alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil, and alfalfa/bromegrass treated for two winters with snowmobile traffic showed no detrimental effects on forage yield. Grain yields from winter wheat stands exposed to snowmobile traffic were not reduced below that of check areas. Red clover and birdsfoot trefoil/orchardgrass yields were decreased during 1 year of the trials but were unaffected by snowmobile traffic during 1 other year.

Snow was found to be compacted by snowmobile traffic and soil temperatures colder and more erratic under these areas. Frost penetrated deeper under areas subjected to snowmobile traffic. Soil compaction was not found to be increased by snowmobile traffic.

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