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Arid Land Research and Management

Mor-Mussery, A. - Department of Soil and Water Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel

Abu-Glaion, H. - Department of Natural Resources, Institute of Plant Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization, Gilat Research Center, Beer Sheba, Israel

Shuker, S. - Department of Natural Resources, Institute of Plant Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization, Gilat Research Center, Beer Sheba, Israel

Zaady, E. - Department of Natural Resources, Institute of Plant Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization, Gilat Research Center, Beer Sheba, Israel

Trampling, vegetation harvesting, and excrement spreading are the means by which ruminants interact with the ecosystem. Several mechanisms were described for the influence of vegetation harvesting and excrement spreading on the ecosystem, whereas the influence of trampling is poorly understood. The goal of the present study was to determine the influence of trampling by small ruminants on the ecosystem. The study took place in 2018 and 2019 in the north-western Negev. Each plot included a fenced control-enclosure subplot that is protected from grazing; its remaining area was grazed by a controlled sheep flock. The findings indicate that the crumbling of the surface soil and its mixing with the vegetation, caused by trampling, increased litter production six- to nine-fold compared with the control. The plant litter was better composted by two- to seven times, and its lignin and protein contents were increased by 10%. We suggest that the findings indicate the positive influence of trampling by small ruminants in enhancing soil fertility, even under arid climatic conditions and loamy soil. Nevertheless, a further experimental study is needed, in additional experimental sites, in order to work out practical guidelines for the farmers.

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The influence of trampling by small ruminants on soil fertility in semi-arid rangelands

Mor-Mussery, A. - Department of Soil and Water Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel

Abu-Glaion, H. - Department of Natural Resources, Institute of Plant Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization, Gilat Research Center, Beer Sheba, Israel

Shuker, S. - Department of Natural Resources, Institute of Plant Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization, Gilat Research Center, Beer Sheba, Israel

Zaady, E. - Department of Natural Resources, Institute of Plant Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization, Gilat Research Center, Beer Sheba, Israel

The influence of trampling by small ruminants on soil fertility in semi-arid rangelands

Trampling, vegetation harvesting, and excrement spreading are the means by which ruminants interact with the ecosystem. Several mechanisms were described for the influence of vegetation harvesting and excrement spreading on the ecosystem, whereas the influence of trampling is poorly understood. The goal of the present study was to determine the influence of trampling by small ruminants on the ecosystem. The study took place in 2018 and 2019 in the north-western Negev. Each plot included a fenced control-enclosure subplot that is protected from grazing; its remaining area was grazed by a controlled sheep flock. The findings indicate that the crumbling of the surface soil and its mixing with the vegetation, caused by trampling, increased litter production six- to nine-fold compared with the control. The plant litter was better composted by two- to seven times, and its lignin and protein contents were increased by 10%. We suggest that the findings indicate the positive influence of trampling by small ruminants in enhancing soil fertility, even under arid climatic conditions and loamy soil. Nevertheless, a further experimental study is needed, in additional experimental sites, in order to work out practical guidelines for the farmers.

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