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Effects of High Stocking Grazing Density of Diverse Swards on Forage Production, Animal Performance and Soil Organic Matter: A Case Study

Zaralis, Konstantinos and Padel, Susanne (2019) Effects of High Stocking Grazing Density of Diverse Swards on Forage Production, Animal Performance and Soil Organic Matter: A Case Study. In: Innovative Approaches and Applications for Sustainable Rural Development: Selected Papers of the 8th International Conference, HAICTA 2017, Chania, Crete, Greece, September 21-24, 2017.. Springer International Publishing, Heidelberg, pp. 131-146.

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Summary

Mob grazing is regarded as a grazing management practice to increase soil organic matter, pasture productivity and nutrient cycling. There are different perspectives in the literature regarding the definition of mob grazing, but it is generally accepted that mob grazing is characterised by high stocking densities of livestock which are moved frequently from paddock to paddock (e.g. with the aid of electric fences), trampling forage into the soil as they graze. It has also been recognised that biodiverse pastures have the potential to build up carbon levels in the soil much more effectively than conventional (usually monocultures) or less diverse pastures; in turn all can enhance animal productivity and maintain good herd health.
This paper reviews the concept of mob grazing and the benefits of diverse swards and provides evidence whether high stocking density as a grazing strategy can increase soil organic matter and enhance overall animal performance, based on observations on one farm. The grazing rotation applied in the farm during the study year was rather short to fulfil the expectations of a mob-grazing system, but stocking density was high (115 t LW ha−1).
The results show that high stocking grazing density of biodiverse pastures has a remarkable effect on the build-up of the soil organic matter and that biodiverse pastures can serve as a viable alternative to conventional pastures as they can maintain animal productivity at high levels.


EPrint Type:Book chapter
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Production systems > Dairy cattle
Soil > Soil quality
Animal husbandry > Feeding and growth
Research affiliation: European Union > SOLID
Greece
UK > Organic Research Centre (ORC) - Elm Farm
H2020 or FP7 Grant Agreement Number:266367
DOI:10.1007/978-3-030-02312-6_8
Deposited By: Padel, Dr Susanne
ID Code:34546
Deposited On:17 Feb 2019 13:58
Last Modified:29 Mar 2019 10:11
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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