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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Surface Water Quality

Influence of Streambank Fencing on the Environmental Quality of Cattle-Excluded Pastures


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 39 No. 3, p. 991-1000
    Received: June 19, 2009

    * Corresponding author(s): jim.miller@agr.gc.ca
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  1. J. J. Miller *a,
  2. D. S. Chanasykb,
  3. T. Curtisa and
  4. W. D. Willmsa
  1. a Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 5403-1st Ave. South, Lethbridge, AB, Canada, T1J 4B1
    b Room 851, General Services Bldg., Department of Renewable Resources, Univ. of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada, T6G 2H1. Assigned to Associate Editor Elizabeth Stockdale


Limited information exists on the effect of streambank fencing on riparian zone pastures. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that 4 to 6 yr of streambank fencing would improve the environmental quality of the cattle-excluded pasture compared with the grazed pasture and cause the fenced pasture to act as a buffer or filter strip. Rangeland health, vegetative and soil properties, and rainfall simulation runoff were measured in the cattle-excluded and adjacent grazed native pastures along the fenced reach of the Lower Little Bow River in southern Alberta, Canada, for 3 yr (2005–2007). Rangeland health was improved (health score increase from 55 to 72%); vegetation cover (13–21%) and standing litter (38–742%) were increased; and bare soil (72–93%) and soil bulk density (6–8%) were decreased under cattle exclusion, indicating an improvement in environmental quality from streambank fencing. In contrast, other vegetation (total and live basal area, fallen litter) and soil properties (soil water and soil C, N, and P) were not improved by cattle exclusion. Cattle exclusion significantly (P ≤ 0.10) reduced surface runoff depth of water (21–32%) and mass loads of total N fractions (21–52%) in 2 of 3 yr compared with the grazed pasture, suggesting that this fenced pasture may act as a buffer for certain runoff variables. In contrast, other runoff variables (turbidity, electrical conductivity, pH, concentrations and loads of total suspended solids, and certain N and P fractions) in the cattle-excluded pasture were generally not improved by streambank fencing. Overall, streambank fencing improved the quality of certain environmental variables within the cattle-excluded pasture.

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