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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Surface Water Quality

Ground Cover Impacts on Nitrogen Export from Manured Riparian Pasture


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 36 No. 1, p. 155-162
    Received: Feb 24, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): dmbutler@uga.edu
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  1. David M. Butler *a,
  2. Noah N. Ranellsa,
  3. Dorcas H. Franklinb,
  4. Matthew H. Poorec and
  5. James T. Greena
  1. a Dep. of Crop Science, North Carolina State Univ., Box 7620, Raleigh, NC 27695
    b USDA-ARS, J. Phil Campbell Sr. Natural Resource Conservation Center, 1420 Experiment Station Rd., Watkinsville, GA, 30677
    c Dep. of Animal Science, North Carolina State Univ., Box 7621, Raleigh, NC, 27695


Maintaining ground cover of forages may reduce the export of nitrogen (N) from pastures. The objective of this work was to determine the effect of ground cover on N export from pastured riparian areas receiving simulated rainfall. Plots were established on two adjacent sites in the North Carolina Piedmont: one of 10% slope with Appling sandy loam soils and a second of 20% slope with Wedowee sandy loam soils. Both sites had existing mixed tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.)-dallisgrass (Paspalum dilatatum Poir.) vegetation. Forage stands were modified to represent a range of ground cover levels: 0, 45, 70, and 95% (bare ground, low, medium, and high cover, respectively), and amended with beef steer (Bos taurus) feces and urine (∼200 kg N ha−1). For all rain events combined, mean nitrate N export was greatest from bare ground and was reduced by 34% at low cover, which did not differ from high cover. Mean ammonium N export was slightly elevated (∼1.37 kg N ha−1) in months when manures were applied and negligible (<0.02 kg N ha−1) in all other months. For all rain events combined, mean export of total N was greatest from bare ground and was reduced by at least 85% at all other cover levels. Whereas site did not impact N export, results indicated that cover and time of rainfall following manure deposition are important determinants of the impact of riparian grazing.

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