Factors Affecting Pasture Management

Factors Affecting Pasture Management

Climatic factors: Temperature and precipitation.

Temperature is one of the important factors for causing stress on the plant community as it controls the plant metabolism, cell division, photosynthesis, respiration, reproduction process, plant distribution, plant adoption, plant communities (Cool season and warm season grass). High temperature cause fast water loss in the plant body and on sites due to rapid transpiration and evaporation loss. Water loss in the plant body and on-site cause stress on plants resulting plant wilting, low growth, early flowering and fruiting and ultimately the plant loose vigor and the production decreases. Similarly, low temperature shortens the growing season of plants through which plants get stressed and results low maturity period, less flowering and fruiting and ultimately the production of plants decreases.

Precipitation: It causes stress on plant communities, less precipitation meant low moisture retention in soil, which is not readily available for plants, less availability of ground water moisture for root intake of water, water movement inside the plant body, drainage, permeability, etc cause stress on plant communities. Humid sites have good aeration and water movement in the soil, whereas arid sites have restricted drainage, low permeability, high ground water table, decreases soluble nutrient available to the plants. High precipitation results more luxuriant growth of plant parts, moisture available during growing season, and high level of moisture stored in the soil, so stress is low in the plant communities.

Edaphic and physiographic factors: The edaphic factors like the physical properties of soil such as soil depth, texture, soil moisture, soil drainage, aeration on soil, permeability, soil fertility, water table etc. are responsible elements for developing stress on plants. The chemical properties of soil like PH, micro and macro nutrient available in soil for plants growth are responsible to create stress on plant communities. All the above-mentioned factors are responsible for stress on plant community. The intensity of stress on plants depends on the degree to which these factors are managed.

Similarly, physiographic condition such as steepness, altitude, aspects also create stress on plant communities. If the slope is very steep, there will be low rate of infiltration and high runoff, high rate of soil loss, low moisture availability, steep slope has shallow soil with low nutrient and low water holding capacity, so plant can get stressed. High altitude has low temperature and is windy, which results short growing season in the plant communities. Stress develops in the plant communities due to low temperature and the result of which are the plants could not reach its maturity and the results are decreasing flowering and fruiting periods, and produce low production. Similarly, the aspects also cause stress on plants, for instance the aspect like east, south and south-western aspects have high radiation, high evaporation, draught, low moisture availability to the plants and so plants get stressed.

Human and natural disturbances such as overgrazing, over cutting/utilization, over trampling, heavy tillage, shifting cultivation, land clearing etc. also cause stress on plant communities. Natural disturbances like fire, storm, landslides, volcanic eruption and ash, climate change, other natural havocs also cause stress on plant community.

Competition: Plants compete with each other for resources like: soil moisture, soil nutrient, and light. A species of plant competes with other in the ecosystem for spatial, temporal and functional niches. The growing plants no matter how close they are grown will not compete each other as long as the soil water, nutrient content and amount of light are available in abundant to their requirement. If any of the above-mentioned elements are in short supply, then the plants compete and interface to some degree.

Grazing habit of livestock: Different animals have different grazing habits and preference of forage species. Grazing habits and preference of some important domestic are:

Animals Grazing habits Preference
Cattle Less selective, grazer Short grass, also edible shrubs
Buffalo Less selective, grazer Usually long grass
Goat Less selective, browse Shrubs and long grass
Sheep Selective, close grazer/browser Tall and short grass and shrubs,
Horse/donkey Selective grazer Graze close to the ground and ignore the browse

It is recommended to graze a range by mixing more than one type of animal. If the pasture is grazed by grazers only then there is a chance of disappearance of palatable grass species by continuous grazing and invading the range by shrubs and other undesirable species. Therefore, grazing a range by different animals having different grazing habits will help maintain good condition of rangeland.

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