Impacts of Grazing on Watersheds: A State of Knowledge.
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Livestock grazing affects watershed hydrologic properties by removing protective plant cover and by trampling. Reductions in the vegetation cover may: (a) increase the impact of raindrops, (b) decrease soil organic matter and soil aggregates, (c) increase surface crusts, (d) decrease infiltration rates, and/or increase erosion. Resultant impacts may include increased overland flow, reduced soil water content, and increased erosion. Bacteria and/or nutrients as potential pollutants from livestock grazing do not appear to be a problem on areas not included on riparian zones. Existing studies show no hydrologic advantage to grazing a watershed lightly rather than moderately. Some studies show no difference in soil loss, infiltration capacity, or soil bulk density between light. moderate, or ungrazed pastures. Little information supports claims for specialized grazing systems. To evaluate hydrologic impacts adequately, additional studies, both intensive and extensive, should be conducted.
DepartmentEcosystem Science and Management
Blackburn, W. H.; Knight, R. W.; Wood, M. K. (1982). Impacts of Grazing on Watersheds: A State of Knowledge.. Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. Available electronically from
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