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Grazing effects on herbage composition and nutrient distribution on a Florida range flatwoods

Author: Burton J Smith
Publisher: 1978.
Dissertation: University of Florida
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript   Archival Material : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
The effects of short duration-high intensity grazing systems on a flatwoods site at the Beef Research Unit, Gainesville, Florida, were investigated from July 1976 to September 1977. Length of rest was the variable, with four replications and four treatments of two, four, six and twelve (control) months rest. Grazing was regulated to remove 50% of available forage, determined prior to cattle entry. Herbage samples  Read more...
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Details

Genre/Form: Academic theses
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Smith, Burton J., 1932-
Grazing effects on herbage composition and nutrient distribution on a Florida range flatwoods.
1978
(OCoLC)821011800
Material Type: Thesis/dissertation, Manuscript, Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Archival Material, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Burton J Smith
OCLC Number: 4261310
Notes: Typescript.
Vita.
Description: xvi, 350 leaves : illustrations ; 28 cm
Responsibility: by Burton J. Smith.

Abstract:

The effects of short duration-high intensity grazing systems on a flatwoods site at the Beef Research Unit, Gainesville, Florida, were investigated from July 1976 to September 1977. Length of rest was the variable, with four replications and four treatments of two, four, six and twelve (control) months rest. Grazing was regulated to remove 50% of available forage, determined prior to cattle entry. Herbage samples were collected prior to and after grazing and forage production determined. In vitro digestibilities, and chemical determinations for phosphorus, calcium, and potassium were conducted on herbage samples for each collection period. Soils, groundwater, precipitation, insects, fecal and litter decomposition were monitored to obtain a total ecological picture of the effects of one year's grazing on flatwoods. Forage production trends indicate that three to four months rest at 50% utilization levels result in the highest production. Cattle production data indicated that this level was too high and a 30 to 40% utilization of flatwoods ranges is suggested. Clipped forage samples were below minimal requirements for dry cows in phosphorus and energy. High Ca:P ratios exist in the native forages, averaging approximately 5:1 over the year. Cattle were found to be actively selecting the outer one-half bud of Serenoa repens in an apparent attempt to rectify this Ca:P imbalance. This portion of the bud has the lowest Ca:P ratio of any part of the plant. This same imbalance may well have implications for white-tailed deer management in the state. Soils at the site are highly variable in chemical content, especially phosphorus. Phosphorus content of the top 30 cm of soils averaged approximately 12 ppm with individual pasture values of less than 0.5 ppm. This high variability of phosphorus, also noted within plant species, may be indicative of low nutrient sites and is suggested as a method for determining the limiting element for production of such sites. Lateral flow of nutrient containing water in the micro-relief of the soil is proposed as one mechanism responsible for the high variations noted in the soil profile. There appeared to be a positive relationship between phosphorus content of the soil and foliar content in plants. Phosphorus input from rainfall was less than one kilogram per hectare per year; however, on phosphorus deficient sites this represents a significant input. Mineral supplementation of cattle considerably increased the phosphorus levels in the soil. The duration of the experiment was too short to note any meaningful changes in foliar chemical content or species composition. However, foliar content of phosphorus in needles of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) are higher (P <0.05) in the two-month rest pastures than in controls during the winter. The phosphorus cycle was simulated on the analog computer and understory plants reacted favorably to additions of phosphorus via cattle supplement. Results of the insect study are tentative but indicate that biomass of the insect population may exceed that of cattle grazing the area. The Florida flatwoods exhibit characteristics similar to the tropical areas of the world. Of 21 grasses at the site, 20 were of the C^ pathway. This high preponderance of C plants is indicative of tropical environments rather than temperate ones. The implications of this are that grazing systems developed in the Western or Northern areas of the United States are not necessarily appropriate for Florida. Range management in Florida should address itself to tropical or subtropical areas of the world and research those systems that show promise of being adapted to local conditions.

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Forage production trends indicate that three to four months rest at 50% utilization levels result in the highest production. Cattle production data indicated that this level was too high and a 30 to 40% utilization of flatwoods ranges is suggested. Clipped forage samples were below minimal requirements for dry cows in phosphorus and energy. High Ca:P ratios exist in the native forages, averaging approximately 5:1 over the year. Cattle were found to be actively selecting the outer one-half bud of Serenoa repens in an apparent attempt to rectify this Ca:P imbalance. This portion of the bud has the lowest Ca:P ratio of any part of the plant. This same imbalance may well have implications for white-tailed deer management in the state. Soils at the site are highly variable in chemical content, especially phosphorus. Phosphorus content of the top 30 cm of soils averaged approximately 12 ppm with individual pasture values of less than 0.5 ppm. 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