Soil carbon pools remain a target for sequestering greenhouse gases, but appropriate land management options to achieve such sequestration remain uncertain. Livestock grazing can have profound positive or negative effects on soil carbon. Different models for assessing the influences of grazing are available, but few explicitly account for different management options on soil organic carbon (SOC). Here, I link a previous simple SOC dynamic model (SNAP) to a recent model of episodic grazing and its effects on primary production. The resulting combined model, called SNAPGRAZE, assesses the potential effects of grazing management on SOC across a range of climates with only eight climate, soil, and management input variables. SNAPGRAZE predicts that, at high stocking densities relative to those sustainable under continuous grazing and at higher mean annual temperature and precipitation, short-duration, high stocking density (SDHSD) grazing schemes can enhance forage production and increase stocks of soil organic carbon. Model predictions for current SOC, given a known 50 year grazing history, agrees well with data from nine private ranches in the North American Great Plains. SNAPGRAZE may provide a framework for exploring the consequences of grazing management for forage production and soil carbon dynamics.
- Rotational grazing
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nature and Landscape Conservation
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law