Keep Grazing- Exploring cattle grazing as a riparian management tool

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Source: Manitoba Beef & Forage Initiatives

With lead researcher Dr. Alex Koiter of Brandon University

Riparian areas are a key part of many strategies to limit phosphorous (P) loss from agricultural land to surface waterways. The loss of P is typically high during the spring snowmelt, as the vegetation from pervious years acts as a source of P and the infiltration of runoff into the frozen soil is limited. While little can be done to promote infiltration of P during this period, the amount of vegetation remaining on the soil surface can be controlled through removal during the previous autumn. Cattle grazing in the riparian area is a potential management tool that can be used to accomplish this. In addition, the high soil moisture in riparian areas produces abundant forage making them a potentially important part of a ranch in times of drought. The goal of this research project is to investigate whether cattle can be used as a management tool to reduce the potential P losses in riparian areas during the spring snowmelt without compromising other riparian functions (e.g., soil compaction). To accomplish this, four treatments are being compared: 1) high density grazing; 2) low density grazing; 3) mowing; and 4) control (do nothing).

BU Student Research Team:

  • Hannah Ziegler-Blair
  • Adriana Avila
  • Maria Luna

Project Funder:

Lake Winnipeg Basin Program

Project Partners:

Manitoba Beef Producers

Brandon University

Manitoba Conservation Districts Association

Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada

Manitoba Beef & Forage Initiatives

Upper Assiniboine River Conservation District

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