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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

  • Konstantinos ZaralisEmail author
  • Susanne Padel
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Earth System Sciences book series (SPRINGEREARTH)

Abstract

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. 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 serve as a viable alternative to conventional pastures as they can maintain animal productivity at high levels.

Keywords

Mob grazing Intensive grazing Dairy cows Organic milk Diverse swards Soil organic matter 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Rob Richmond for this valuable input to this work. This study was undertaken in the European research project “SOLID; Sustainable Organic and Low-input Dairying” (Agreement no. 266367; http://www.solidairy.eu/), with financial support from the 7th Framework Programme.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Agricultural Technology, Food Technology and Nutrition, Highest Technological Educational Institute of Western MacedoniaFlorinaGreece
  2. 2.The Organic Research CentreNewburyUK

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