Pasture Ecology - ManagingThings That We Cannot See.            Ed Rayburn        Extension Specialist       West Virginia...
Pasture-Based Livestock Producers• In business harvesting solar energy.• Converting solar energy into food and fiber  prod...
Energy Flow and Nutrient Cycles
Generalized Nutrient Cycle
Soil Organic Matter•   Plant residues (dead plant material, course OM)•   Active organic matter (rapid decomposition)•   S...
Citizens of the Soil Community•   Plant roots and root nodules•   Earthworms•   Slugs and snails•   Nematodes•   Woodlice•...
Soil Citizens Provide Community Services• Nitrogen fixation• Nutrient cycling     – shredders     – decomposers     – pred...
Photos FromNRCS Soil Biology Web Site  http://soils.usda.gov/sqi/concepts/        soil_biology/biology.html
Earthworms (3 niches)
Earthworms
Arthropods (Insects and Relatives)
Dung Beetles (3 niches)Dung Beetles of Central and Eastern North Carolina Cattle Pastures  http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/entomo...
http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/entomology/guidetoncdungbeetles.pdf
Slugs and Snails• Primary consumers• Shredders• Predators               http://www.backyardnature.net/snail_sl.htm
Bacteria• Decomposers  – immobilize nutrients in cells  – make energy and nutrients available• Mutualists partner with pla...
Bacteria Services•   Nutrient cycling     – decomposition     – hold nutrients•   Disease suppression     – compete with d...
Protozoa Help With Nutrient Cycling By         Feeding on Bacteria
Protozoa Come in Three Forms, Amoeba, Flagellates, Ciliates
Free-Living Nematodes (4-types)• Bacterial-feeders consume bacteria.• Fungal-feeders puncture cell wall of fungi and  suck...
Nematodes• Fungal-feeding   • Bacterial-feeding
Fungi • Decompose OM • Glomalin secretion   develops soil structure • Extract nutrients • Hold nutrients
Fungi Help Plants Extract Nutrients            From Soil
Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungus (AM)
Ectomycorrhizae Important To Trees
Basic Nutrient Cycling• Plant, bacteria and fungus    – extract N from air or soil    – extract macro and micro minerals f...
Community Interactions• Legume, bacteria• Legume, bacteria, and grass• Legume, bacteria, fungus, and grass
N Transfer From Legume (Clover & Bacteria) to                   Grass In a New Seeding.               25               20 ...
Transfers Between Legumes, Grasses, and Soil           By Way of Mycorrhizae.
Community Interactions• Bacteria and nematodes• Bacteria, mites, and nematodes
Interactions      •   Nematodes eat bacteria      •   Mites eat nematode      •   Nematodes eat fungus      •   Fungi eat ...
Healthy Soil Ecology Balance of• Food supply (organic matter with  adequate macro- and micro mineral  nutrients)• Physical...
Management Needed to Help the            System (a)•   Soil pH 6.0-7.0 depending on the legume•   Adequate not excessive s...
Management Needed to Help the         System (b)• Rest pastures to get cover for night  crawlers• Legumes for livestock an...
Take Home• Above ground we manage plants with animals to capture  solar energy, convert it into marketable livestock  prod...
NRCS Soil Biology   Web Sitehttp://soils.usda.gov/sqi/concepts/      soil_biology/biology.html
Dung BeetlesDung Beetles of Central and Eastern North Carolina Cattle Pastures  http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/entomology/guidet...
• http://www.soilfoodweb.com/
Managing What You Can't See
Managing What You Can't See
Managing What You Can't See
Managing What You Can't See
Managing What You Can't See
Managing What You Can't See
Managing What You Can't See
Managing What You Can't See
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Managing What You Can't See

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Powerpoint by Prof. Edward Rayburn. 2012 Soil Science presentation

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Managing What You Can't See

  1. 1. Pasture Ecology - ManagingThings That We Cannot See. Ed Rayburn Extension Specialist West Virginia University erayburn@wvu.edu
  2. 2. Pasture-Based Livestock Producers• In business harvesting solar energy.• Converting solar energy into food and fiber products for people.• Manage – plants to optimize harvest of solar energy, – animals to transfer that energy into livestock products, – cycling of mineral nutrients in the landscape – to make business socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable.• Are pasture ecosystem managers.
  3. 3. Energy Flow and Nutrient Cycles
  4. 4. Generalized Nutrient Cycle
  5. 5. Soil Organic Matter• Plant residues (dead plant material, course OM)• Active organic matter (rapid decomposition)• Slow organic matter (slow decomposition)• Passive organic matter (stable OM)
  6. 6. Citizens of the Soil Community• Plant roots and root nodules• Earthworms• Slugs and snails• Nematodes• Woodlice• Spiders and Mites• Centipedes and Millipedes• Spring tails• Beetles• Ants and Termites• Bacteria and Actinomycetes• Protozoa• Fungus
  7. 7. Soil Citizens Provide Community Services• Nitrogen fixation• Nutrient cycling – shredders – decomposers – predators• Soil structure and aeration – water infiltration, holding capacity• Soil moisture affects microbial activity• Each has an optimum environment• Redundancy of functional species with different optima• Each has a niches• All participate in the soil food web
  8. 8. Photos FromNRCS Soil Biology Web Site http://soils.usda.gov/sqi/concepts/ soil_biology/biology.html
  9. 9. Earthworms (3 niches)
  10. 10. Earthworms
  11. 11. Arthropods (Insects and Relatives)
  12. 12. Dung Beetles (3 niches)Dung Beetles of Central and Eastern North Carolina Cattle Pastures http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/entomology/guidetoncdungbeetles.pdf
  13. 13. http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/entomology/guidetoncdungbeetles.pdf
  14. 14. Slugs and Snails• Primary consumers• Shredders• Predators http://www.backyardnature.net/snail_sl.htm
  15. 15. Bacteria• Decomposers – immobilize nutrients in cells – make energy and nutrients available• Mutualists partner with plants – nitrogen-fixing bacteria• Pathogens• Chemoautotrophs – obtains energy from nitrogen, sulfur, iron or hydrogen not carbon compounds
  16. 16. Bacteria Services• Nutrient cycling – decomposition – hold nutrients• Disease suppression – compete with disease-causing organisms below and above ground• Water movement – substances bind soil particles into stable aggregates – water infiltration – water-holding capacity• Symbiotic bacteria with legumes – convert nitrogen from air to form plant can use• Nitrifying bacteria – change ammonium (NH4+) to nitrite (NO2-) then to nitrate (NO3-)• Denitrifying bacteria – convert nitrate to nitrogen (N2) or nitrous oxide (N2O) gas• Actinomycetes – decompose hard-to-decompose compounds, chitin and cellulose
  17. 17. Protozoa Help With Nutrient Cycling By Feeding on Bacteria
  18. 18. Protozoa Come in Three Forms, Amoeba, Flagellates, Ciliates
  19. 19. Free-Living Nematodes (4-types)• Bacterial-feeders consume bacteria.• Fungal-feeders puncture cell wall of fungi and suck out the internal contents.• Predatory eat other nematodes and protozoa.• Omnivores eat a variety of organisms or may have a different diet at each life stage.• (Root-feeding nematodes are plant parasites, and are not free-living in the soil)
  20. 20. Nematodes• Fungal-feeding • Bacterial-feeding
  21. 21. Fungi • Decompose OM • Glomalin secretion develops soil structure • Extract nutrients • Hold nutrients
  22. 22. Fungi Help Plants Extract Nutrients From Soil
  23. 23. Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungus (AM)
  24. 24. Ectomycorrhizae Important To Trees
  25. 25. Basic Nutrient Cycling• Plant, bacteria and fungus – extract N from air or soil – extract macro and micro minerals from soil• Plant consumed by herbivore or dies• Herbivores deposit manure and urine• Shredders break large material into small bits• Bacteria consume rapidly degraded CHOs (sugars etc.)• Bacteria consume less degradable CHOs (fiber)• Fungi and actinomycetes consume even less degradable CHOs (fiber and lignin)• Macro and micro minerals released for plants• Organic forms of P and micro minerals more available to plants
  26. 26. Community Interactions• Legume, bacteria• Legume, bacteria, and grass• Legume, bacteria, fungus, and grass
  27. 27. N Transfer From Legume (Clover & Bacteria) to Grass In a New Seeding. 25 20 Ryegrass w/Ryegrass CP% 15 ladino clover Ryegrass w/o ladino clover 10 5 0 1-Feb 2-Apr 1-Jun 31-Jul 29-Sep 28-Nov 27-Jan
  28. 28. Transfers Between Legumes, Grasses, and Soil By Way of Mycorrhizae.
  29. 29. Community Interactions• Bacteria and nematodes• Bacteria, mites, and nematodes
  30. 30. Interactions • Nematodes eat bacteria • Mites eat nematode • Nematodes eat fungus • Fungi eat nematodes
  31. 31. Healthy Soil Ecology Balance of• Food supply (organic matter with adequate macro- and micro mineral nutrients)• Physical environment above and below ground (cover and habitat at all scales)• Healthy consumers, omnivores, predators, and predators of predators (diversity)• Chemical environment (soil oxygen, pH, fertility)• Thermal and moisture environment
  32. 32. Management Needed to Help the System (a)• Soil pH 6.0-7.0 depending on the legume• Adequate not excessive soil P and K• Inoculate legume seed with proper bacteria• Manage nutrients on the farm – (recycle manure, urine, and organic residues)• Proper grazing management – timing and intensity suitable for the forage mixture• Proper fall grazing – develop tillers in grasses and stolons of white clovers – reduce adult clover root curculio activity
  33. 33. Management Needed to Help the System (b)• Rest pastures to get cover for night crawlers• Legumes for livestock and earthworms – they prefer legumes over grasses• Fly control friendly to dung beetles• Weed control friendly to legumes and soil micro organisms• Co-graze livestock – convert “weeds” to animal feed and manure
  34. 34. Take Home• Above ground we manage plants with animals to capture solar energy, convert it into marketable livestock products, cycle nutrients so that our pasture system can be sustainable.• This management influences soil organic matter to feed macro- and microorganisms in the soil.• This affects the soil’s physical condition, availability of macro- and micronutrients and soil moisture to plants.• Understanding how management affects the soil community assists us in our management of the entire pasture ecosystem.
  35. 35. NRCS Soil Biology Web Sitehttp://soils.usda.gov/sqi/concepts/ soil_biology/biology.html
  36. 36. Dung BeetlesDung Beetles of Central and Eastern North Carolina Cattle Pastures http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/entomology/guidetoncdungbeetles.pdf
  37. 37. • http://www.soilfoodweb.com/

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