Restoration of Degraded Grasslands and Sustainable Grazing

A special issue of Agriculture (ISSN 2077-0472). This special issue belongs to the section "Ecosystem, Environment and Climate Change in Agriculture".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 January 2023) | Viewed by 29933

Special Issue Editors

Institute of Grassland Research, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Hohhot 010010, China
Interests: grazing ecology; restoration and management of degraded grasslands; pastoral economics and policy; grassland ecological protection and restoration; grassland management

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Guest Editor
Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
Interests: nitrogen and phosphorus acquisition; 15N or 13C labelling; GHG emission; ecosystem service; carbon sequestration

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Ecology and Environment, Inner Mongolia University, Hohhot 010021, China
Interests: biodiversity pattern and maintenance mechanism; relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function; plant soil microbial interaction; habitat fragmentation and ecological effects; grassland sustainable development

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Grassland is an important terrestrial ecosystem, accounting for about a quarter of the total land area. More and more people realize that it has irreplaceable ecological function besides production function. However, due to the increase in population and living demands in grassland areas, or the excessive pursuit of economic benefits by some people, the problem of overloading grazing is common in some countries or regions. The population–land–pasture–livestock system is severely unbalanced, leading to grassland degradation. In addition, global climate change, especially the warming and drying in the middle and high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, has intensified the speed of grassland degradation and the difficulty of ecological restoration. Therefore, in view of the current large-scale degradation of grassland, clarifying the driving mechanism of grassland degradation and promoting the ecological restoration of degraded grassland act as the key bases for the sustainable development of grassland ecological function and sustainable grazing utilization, which attracts much attention and expectation. This issue seeks contributions around the topic of Restoration of Degraded Grasslands for Sustainable Grazing, including, but not limited to, grassland soil health, grassland biodiversity conservation, grassland ecological processes and functions, livestock-plant and soil interactions, grassland degradation mechanisms, grassland restoration mechanisms and technologies, the impacts of climate change, grassland evaluation and application of advanced technologies, sustainable grazing management, and grassland conservation and restoration policies. Original research articles and reviews are accepted.

Dr. Yong Ding
Prof. Dr. Yuqiang Tian
Prof. Dr. Qing Zhang
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • grassland degradation mechanisms
  • grassland restoration mechanisms
  • sustainable grazing management
  • soil-grass-livestock interaction
  • grassland biodiversity conservation
  • grassland soil health
  • grassland assessment and application of advanced technologies

Published Papers (16 papers)

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20 pages, 13931 KiB  
Article
Identification of Constructive Species and Degraded Plant Species in the Temperate Typical Grassland of Inner Mongolia Based on Hyperspectral Data
by Haining Liu, Hong Wang, Xiaobing Li, Tengfei Qu, Yao Zhang, Yuting Lu, Yalei Yang, Jiahao Liu, Xili Zhao, Jingru Su and Dingsheng Luo
Agriculture 2023, 13(2), 399; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13020399 - 8 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1738
Abstract
In recent years, grassland degradation has become a global ecological problem. The identification of degraded grassland species is of great significance for monitoring grassland ecological environments and accelerating grassland ecological restoration. In this study, a ground spectral measurement experiment of typical grass species [...] Read more.
In recent years, grassland degradation has become a global ecological problem. The identification of degraded grassland species is of great significance for monitoring grassland ecological environments and accelerating grassland ecological restoration. In this study, a ground spectral measurement experiment of typical grass species in the typical temperate grassland of Inner Mongolia was performed. An SVC XHR-1024i spectrometer was used to obtain field measurements of the spectra of grass species in the typical grassland areas of the study region from 6–29 July 2021. The parametric characteristics of the grass species’ spectral data were extracted and analyzed. Then, the spectral characteristic parameters + vegetation index, first-order derivative (FD) and continuum removal (CR) datasets were constructed by using principal component analysis (PCA). Finally, the RF, SVM, BP, CNN and the improved CNN model were established to identify Stipa grandis (SG), Cleistogenes squarrosa (CS), Caragana microphylla Lam. (CL), Leymus chinensis (LC), Artemisia frigida (AF), Allium ramosum L. (AL) and Artemisia capillaris Thunb. (AT). This study aims to determine a high-precision identification method based on the measured spectrum and to lay a foundation for related research. The obtained research results show that in the identification results based on ground-measured spectral data, the overall accuracy of the RF model and SVM model identification for different input datasets is low, but the identification accuracies of the SVM model for AF and AL are more than 85%. The recognition result of the CNN model is generally worse than that of the BP neural network model, but its recognition accuracy for AL is higher, while the recognition effect of the BP neural network model for CL is better. The overall accuracy and average accuracy of the improved CNN model are all the highest, and the recognition accuracy of AF and CL is stable above 98%, but the recognition accuracy of CS needs to be improved. The improved CNN model in this study shows a relatively significant grass species recognition performance and has certain recognition advantages. The identification of degraded grassland species can provide important scientific references for the realization of normal functions of grassland ecosystems, the maintenance of grassland biodiversity richness, and the management and planning of grassland production and life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoration of Degraded Grasslands and Sustainable Grazing)
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13 pages, 1287 KiB  
Article
Improved Management of Grassland to Promote Sustainable Use Based on Farm Size
by Xin He, Jingru Wei, Suhua Gu, Luping Wang, Zechen Tian, Danqiong Chen and Jiazhi Yuan
Agriculture 2023, 13(2), 350; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13020350 - 31 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1387
Abstract
Grassland farms form the basis of grassland resource management in China. Farm sizes in China are generally small, which obviously increases the risk of grassland ecosystems. It is necessary to analyze the impact of farm size on grasslands from the perspective of livestock [...] Read more.
Grassland farms form the basis of grassland resource management in China. Farm sizes in China are generally small, which obviously increases the risk of grassland ecosystems. It is necessary to analyze the impact of farm size on grasslands from the perspective of livestock production in order to improve grassland management. This study combines field investigations and statistical analysis from 2004 to 2020, using a total of 126 farms from the Xilinguole League of Inner Mongolia in China as samples. These sample farms are divided into large farms and small farms. Different production scale and management behaviors are explored, along with their different impacts on grassland resources use. The results show that the expansion of farm size is constrained by the government management policies. Different behaviors are adopted by large and small farms in terms of finance, grassland circulation, and overgrazing management. The differentiation mechanisms of different farm size and the utilization of grassland resources are clarified in this study. This work suggests that managers promote sustainable use based on farm size and build appropriate policies to avoid future risks. The results of this study can provide a framework for solving similar problems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoration of Degraded Grasslands and Sustainable Grazing)
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14 pages, 2554 KiB  
Article
Responses of Alpine Soil Nitrification and Denitrification Rates to Nitrogen Addition Gradient—The Role of Functional Genes
by Jiaqi Zhang, Yinghui Liu and Jingyi Dong
Agriculture 2023, 13(2), 245; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13020245 - 19 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1547
Abstract
Increases in nitrogen (N) deposition affect the nitrification and denitrification processes that are regulated by microorganisms. With the aim of understanding what happened to the soil nitrification and denitrification rates under the N application gradients, we set a field experiment treated with N [...] Read more.
Increases in nitrogen (N) deposition affect the nitrification and denitrification processes that are regulated by microorganisms. With the aim of understanding what happened to the soil nitrification and denitrification rates under the N application gradients, we set a field experiment treated with N at 6 different rates (0, 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32 g N·m−2·yr−1) in 2014. We determined the physico-chemical properties, abundances and community structures of the nitrifiers and denitrifiers, the net nitrification rate (NNR) and the potential denitrification rate (PDR) of soil samples that were collected in 2020. We found that the abundances of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria amoA (AOB amoA), the sum of ammonia-oxidizing archaea amoA (AOA amoA) and AOB amoA increased with the increase in N application rate, but the abundances of nosZ decreased with that. The microorganisms that dominate the ammonia oxidation process could shift from AOA to AOB under high N application rates. Furthermore, the soil microorganisms respond to the N addition preferentially with the abundance changes rather than the community composition changes. Moreover, the NNR increased with the N input, while the decrease in the PDR was due to the decrease in the pH value caused by high N application. The results also showed that the amoA gene abundance explained most (46.3%) of the variation in the NNR. Moreover, the soil moisture and pH explained 44.0% and 27.1% of the variation in the PDR, respectively. The results demonstrated that the NNR and PDR were mainly explained by functional genes abundances and environmental factors, respectively, in alpine meadow soil under sustained N deposition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoration of Degraded Grasslands and Sustainable Grazing)
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12 pages, 2813 KiB  
Article
Interactive Effects of Soil Water, Nutrients and Clonal Fragmentation on Root Growth of Xerophilic Plant Stipa breviflora
by Ruyue Fan, Shijie Lv, Yong Ding and Qingfeng Li
Agriculture 2022, 12(12), 2112; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12122112 - 9 Dec 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1052
Abstract
Root traits are often used to predict the ecological adaptations of plants. Water and nutrient availability together with fragment size are likely to affect the adaptative capacity of Stipa breviflora and help plants spread and explore new sites, while the effects of water, [...] Read more.
Root traits are often used to predict the ecological adaptations of plants. Water and nutrient availability together with fragment size are likely to affect the adaptative capacity of Stipa breviflora and help plants spread and explore new sites, while the effects of water, nutrients and fragment size on S. breviflora’s root traits have rarely been studied in combination. Here, a standard Taguchi L8(27) array design was conducted with four single factors, water (W), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and fragment size (C), and three interactions (N × P, N × W and P × W). Each of the four factors had two levels (1 = low level and 2 = high level). This study found that water was the most important contributor influencing S. breviflora root growth, followed by N and P, respectively. W2 and P2 additions both promoted root growth, whereas N2 addition significantly inhibited root growth. Though C2 had higher values of total root length, surface area, volume, number of tips and biomass than C1, its root growth rate was lower than C1, and its small size fragment had a higher capacity of root growth under low N addition. These findings suggest that clonal fragmentation may enhance the adaptation of S. breviflora in low nitrogen habitats, and that nitrogen is one of the limiting factors influencing their growth and distribution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoration of Degraded Grasslands and Sustainable Grazing)
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12 pages, 2354 KiB  
Article
Differential Physiological Characteristics and Fungal Composition of Alfalfa under Salt Stress in Degraded Grasslands
by Qiang Lu, Duowen Sa, Zhen Wang, Zhijun Wang, Gentu Ge, Yushan Jia, Tingyu Liu and Lin Sun
Agriculture 2022, 12(10), 1636; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12101636 - 8 Oct 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1318
Abstract
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) is an important source of livestock feed used to address the imbalance between livestock and forage production in China. However, much of the grasslands have a high salt content, which seriously affects the quality and yield of [...] Read more.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) is an important source of livestock feed used to address the imbalance between livestock and forage production in China. However, much of the grasslands have a high salt content, which seriously affects the quality and yield of alfalfa. There are many kinds of fungi that play an important role in alfalfa growth and nutrient synthesis. The response of the fungi of alfalfa to salinity is poorly understood. In this study, the physiological characteristics and the fungal community composition of alfalfa under different salt stress conditions were investigated. Salt stress had a great impact on the physiological characteristics and the fungal community composition of alfalfa. The activity of invertase increased significantly under salt stress; the content of water and starch decreased; and the content of crude protein (CP) and soluble sugar increased under mild salt stress. With the increase in salt stress, the relative abundance of Ascomycetes increased, while the relative abundance of basidiomycetes decreased. This showed that the changes in the fungal community may be related to the adaptability of alfalfa plants to salt stress. These findings contribute to a better understanding of alfalfa physiological characteristics and nutrient synthesis under salt stress and deepen our understanding of alfalfa–fungi interactions in the saline soil environment of grasslands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoration of Degraded Grasslands and Sustainable Grazing)
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17 pages, 3141 KiB  
Article
Grazing Intensity Has More Effect on the Potential Nitrification Activity Than the Potential Denitrification Activity in An Alpine Meadow
by Jingyi Dong, Liming Tian, Jiaqi Zhang, Yinghui Liu, Haiyan Li and Qi Dong
Agriculture 2022, 12(10), 1521; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12101521 - 22 Sep 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1732
Abstract
On the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau, nitrogen (N) cycling, such as nitrification and denitrification, in the alpine meadow soils have been considerably affected by grazing, with possible consequences for nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. However, there is a lack of understanding about how the [...] Read more.
On the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau, nitrogen (N) cycling, such as nitrification and denitrification, in the alpine meadow soils have been considerably affected by grazing, with possible consequences for nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. However, there is a lack of understanding about how the potential nitrification activity (PNA) and the potential denitrification activity (PDA) might be affected by the grazing intensity. We collected the soil samples in alpine meadow in the east of the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau that was grazed at different intensities from 2015 in peak growing season 2021. We determined the soil physical and chemical properties, the functional gene abundances of nitrifiers and denitrifiers, and the soil PNA and PDA to explore the relationships between a range of abiotic and biotic factors and the PNA and PDA. We found that the PNA and the nitrifiers were significantly affected by the grazing intensity but that the PDA and the denitrifiers were not. The ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) abundance was highest but the ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB)abundance was lower than the control significantly at the highest grazing intensity. The AOA abundance and the soil NH4+-N explained most of the variation in the PNA. The pH was the main predictor of the PDA and controlled the nirS abundance but not the nirK and nosZ abundances. Overall, the PNA was more responsive to the grazing intensity than the PDA. These findings can improve estimations of the nitrification and denitrification process and N2O emissions in alpine meadow. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoration of Degraded Grasslands and Sustainable Grazing)
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18 pages, 7584 KiB  
Article
Response of Soil Microbial Community Composition and Diversity at Different Gradients of Grassland Degradation in Central Mongolia
by Lumeng Chao, Xiaodan Ma, Munkhzul Tsetsegmaa, Yaxin Zheng, Hanting Qu, Yuan Dai, Jingpeng Li and Yuying Bao
Agriculture 2022, 12(9), 1430; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12091430 - 9 Sep 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2422
Abstract
Vegetation and soil microorganisms are important components of terrestrial ecosystems and play a crucial role in ecosystem functioning. However, little is known about the synergistic changes in soil microbial community with aboveground plants in grassland degradation and the role of the microbial community [...] Read more.
Vegetation and soil microorganisms are important components of terrestrial ecosystems and play a crucial role in ecosystem functioning. However, little is known about the synergistic changes in soil microbial community with aboveground plants in grassland degradation and the role of the microbial community in the process of vegetation restoration succession. In this study, we investigated the characteristics of soil microbial communities and diversities in the different levels of grassland degradation using Illumina MiSeq high-throughput sequencing. The dominant bacteria phyla were: Actinobacteriota, 31.61–48.90%; Acidobacteriota, 7.19–21.73%; Chloroflexi, 9.08–19.09%; and Proteobacteria, 11.14–18.03%. While the dominant fungi phyla were: Ascomycota, 46.36–81.58%; Basidiomycota, 5.63–33.18%; and Mortierellomycota, 1.52–37.69%. Through RDA/CCA, the effects of environmental factors on the differences in the soil microbial community between different sites were interpreted. Results showed that the pH was the most critical factor affecting soil microbial communities in seriously degraded grassland; nevertheless, soil microbial communities in non-degraded grassland and less degraded grasslands were mainly affected by the soil moisture content and soil enzyme activities (sucrase activity, alkaline phosphatase activity and catalase activity). We systematically demonstrated the soil microbial communities of different grassland degradation gradients in Mongolia, which provided valuable information for grassland degradation reduction and vegetation restoration succession. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoration of Degraded Grasslands and Sustainable Grazing)
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13 pages, 1736 KiB  
Article
Differential Responses of Dominant Plants to Grazing in Typical Temperate Grassland in Inner Mongolia
by Dongli Wan, Yongqing Wan, Yunfeng Wang, Tingting Yang, Fang Li, Wuriliga and Yong Ding
Agriculture 2022, 12(9), 1399; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12091399 - 5 Sep 2022
Viewed by 1352
Abstract
Leymus chinensis, Stipa grandis, Artemisia frigida, and Cleistogenes squarrosa are the dominant plant species in typical temperate grasslands in Xilingol. Intensive studies related to overgrazing, which resulted in a dominant plant shift, have been carried out in recent years, but [...] Read more.
Leymus chinensis, Stipa grandis, Artemisia frigida, and Cleistogenes squarrosa are the dominant plant species in typical temperate grasslands in Xilingol. Intensive studies related to overgrazing, which resulted in a dominant plant shift, have been carried out in recent years, but the ways in which these four species respond to different grazing intensities remain elusive. In this study, the contents of primary metabolites, secondary metabolites, and phytohormones in the leaves of these species under five grazing intensities were assayed and compared. The results showed that A. frigida contained higher amounts of lignin, while C. squarrosa contained higher amounts of total flavonoids than the other species. Leymus chinensis showed a different accumulation of cellulose and tannin in response to grazing, compared with the other three species. Stipa grandis and A. frigida increased in soluble protein contents in response to different grazing treatments. In particular, the contents of phytohormones, such as abscisic acid, salicylic acid, and gibberellins, were markedly changed under grazing. Leymus chinensis exhibited different abscisic acid and gibberellins accumulation patterns compared with the other species, under the different grazing intensities. Patterns of salicylic acid accumulation were similar (except under light and moderate grazing intensities in A. frigida) among the four species. The results indicated that the four species differed in adaptive strategies to cope with the different grazing intensities, and phytohormones played important roles in coordinating the regulation of their growth and grazing tolerance. This study provides a foundation for elucidating the mechanisms of overgrazing-induced degradation of the Xilingol grassland. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoration of Degraded Grasslands and Sustainable Grazing)
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15 pages, 3191 KiB  
Article
Mowing Increases Root-to-Shoot Ratio but Decreases Soil Organic Carbon Storage and Microbial Biomass C in a Semiarid Grassland of North China
by Lu Li, Huaiqiang Liu and Taogetao Baoyin
Agriculture 2022, 12(9), 1324; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12091324 - 28 Aug 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1871
Abstract
Quantifying the long-term effects of mowing on soil organic carbon (SOC) is of great importance for understanding the changes in the carbon cycle of the grassland ecosystem and for managing the grassland strategies for both production and soil nutrients. We investigated SOC content [...] Read more.
Quantifying the long-term effects of mowing on soil organic carbon (SOC) is of great importance for understanding the changes in the carbon cycle of the grassland ecosystem and for managing the grassland strategies for both production and soil nutrients. We investigated SOC content and storage within the 0–30 cm soil layer in the grasslands following the application of different mowing regimes—i.e., mowing once every 2 years (M1/2), mowing twice every 3 years (M2/3), mowing once a year (M1/1), mowing twice a year (M2/1), and no mowing (CK)—in the semiarid steppe of northern China. The results indicated that SOC storage and microbial biomass C (MBC) decreased significantly with soil depth. Different mowing frequencies all declined SOC storage and MBC of the grassland ecosystem; however, the root-to-shoot ratio (R:S) was increased. The SOC storage was greatest under CK and had the following order: CK > M1/2 > M2/3 > M1/1 > M2/1 at 0–20 cm, while no significant difference existed in the five mowing frequencies at the soil 20–30 cm layers. Our findings elucidate that different mowing regimes influence soil carbon storage by altering the productivity of vegetation, litter, plant community composition, soil microbial biomass, and resource allocation between aboveground plants and belowground roots, which need to be considered in the sustainable utilization of grasslands in the future. The results of this study support the view that mowing once every 2 years may be an effective mowing management regime for semiarid grasslands, as it conserves both above and belowground parts and maintains the healthy development of ecosystem functions in semiarid grasslands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoration of Degraded Grasslands and Sustainable Grazing)
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15 pages, 1242 KiB  
Article
The Grassland Ecological Compensation Policy Drives the Differentiation of Herders’ Livelihoods in Inner Mongolian Desert Grassland
by Hong Chang, Xinchao Liu, Yu Xie, Yahong Liu, Wu Yang and Jianming Niu
Agriculture 2022, 12(9), 1325; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12091325 - 27 Aug 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1393
Abstract
Herders’ livelihood strategies are functions of the capitals at their disposal. Although this thesis has been proved, it has not been applied to livelihood research in the context of conservation initiatives. The Chinese government implemented the Grassland Ecological Compensation Policy (GECP) in 2011. [...] Read more.
Herders’ livelihood strategies are functions of the capitals at their disposal. Although this thesis has been proved, it has not been applied to livelihood research in the context of conservation initiatives. The Chinese government implemented the Grassland Ecological Compensation Policy (GECP) in 2011. However, the impact of the policy on herders’ livelihoods is still unclear. This study measured the variation in herders’ livelihood strategies in the desert grassland of Inner Mongolia, China, after the implementation of the GECP. This study also analyzed the impacts of livelihood capitals on the livelihood strategies, revealing the shortages of different livelihood strategies. The results showed the following: After the GECP, (1) herders’ livelihood strategies could be grouped into five types based on livelihood capitals. The livelihood capitals of herders varied greatly, resulting in large economical gaps among households with different livelihood strategies. (2) The herders’ livelihood strategies were affected by factors including the education, age, social communication, amount of livestock, income, and subsidy of the herders. (3) The main income sources of different livelihood strategies were both subsidy and livestock husbandry. In general, the GECP drives the differentiation of herders’ livelihoods remarkably. Future conservation initiatives should take the shortages of different livelihood strategies into account. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoration of Degraded Grasslands and Sustainable Grazing)
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13 pages, 2584 KiB  
Article
Aerial Seeding Promotes the Restoration of Ecosystem Health in Mu Us Sandy Grasslands in China
by Yina Ma, Shixiong Wang, Qing Zhang, Kun Guo, Yuejun He, Danmei Chen, Mingzhen Sui, Guangqi Zhang, Lipeng Zang and Qingfu Liu
Agriculture 2022, 12(8), 1255; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12081255 - 18 Aug 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1606
Abstract
Grassland ecosystem health is related to global ecological problems, and large areas of grassland are threatened by degradation. Various measures, such as aerial seeding, have been applied to restore degraded grassland ecosystems. However, the effects of these measures remain unclear. In this study, [...] Read more.
Grassland ecosystem health is related to global ecological problems, and large areas of grassland are threatened by degradation. Various measures, such as aerial seeding, have been applied to restore degraded grassland ecosystems. However, the effects of these measures remain unclear. In this study, based on the CVOR (condition, vitality, organization, and resilience) model, the entropy method was used to calculate the ecosystem health of aerial seeding restoration sites in the Mu Us sandy grassland, China. Then, the relationship between CVOR value, various indices in the model, and restoration time was measured using correlation analysis. The results show that (1) the vitality criterion layer has the highest weight in the CVOR model; (2) the cautionary hierarchy is the most (40.0%), and the healthy hierarchy is the opposite (10.0%) among all the restoration sites; and (3) 30-year aerial seeding can promote ecosystem health in sandy grasslands. This study demonstrates that aerial seeding is an effective method for restoring degraded grassland ecosystems and can guide future restoration measures and policies for degraded ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoration of Degraded Grasslands and Sustainable Grazing)
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15 pages, 3274 KiB  
Article
Effectiveness of Grassland Protection and Pastoral Area Development under the Grassland Ecological Conservation Subsidy and Reward Policy
by Yiran Zhang, Wuriliga, Yong Ding, Fang Li, Yujuan Zhang, Min Su, Shuhui Li and Li Liu
Agriculture 2022, 12(8), 1177; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12081177 - 8 Aug 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1870
Abstract
In 2011, the Grassland Ecological Conservation Subsidy and Reward Policy (GECSRP) was implemented in China. The purpose of implementing the policy was to protect grassland ecosystems, secure the supply of livestock products, and increase the income of herders. Through quantitative research data collection [...] Read more.
In 2011, the Grassland Ecological Conservation Subsidy and Reward Policy (GECSRP) was implemented in China. The purpose of implementing the policy was to protect grassland ecosystems, secure the supply of livestock products, and increase the income of herders. Through quantitative research data collection methods, based on analysis and comparison of the effects of the GECSRP before and after its implementation in 2011 on grassland ecology, livestock production, and herder incomes on a national scale, this study summarized the effectiveness of the policy and main problems encountered during the policy implementation period and offered suggestions for optimizing the GECSRP. The results show that the GECSRP has been significantly effective in protecting grassland ecology, regulating livestock production, and safeguarding the livelihoods of pastoralists. Under the existing policies, low subsidy and reward standards caused an increase in the overgrazing rate, livestock production remained the main income source for herders, and a lack of technical support reduced forage and livestock quality, which subsequently reduced the income of herders. In conclusion, the existing policies can be improved by gradually enhancing evaluation standards, considering the balance between livestock grazing and grassland ecology, promoting industrialization of livestock products, and valuing the production skills of herders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoration of Degraded Grasslands and Sustainable Grazing)
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18 pages, 4238 KiB  
Article
Effects of Grazing Sheep and Mowing on Grassland Vegetation Community and Soil Microbial Activity under Different Levels of Nitrogen Deposition
by Chengyang Zhou, Shining Zuo, Xiaonan Wang, Yixin Ji, Qiezhuo Lamao, Li Liu and Ding Huang
Agriculture 2022, 12(8), 1133; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12081133 - 30 Jul 2022
Viewed by 1853
Abstract
Increasing nitrogen deposition plays a critical role in the material circulation of grassland. Mowing and grazing sheep are important means of utilizing grassland. This study investigated the effects of nitrogen deposition, sheep grazing and mowing on the soil, vegetation and soil microorganisms of [...] Read more.
Increasing nitrogen deposition plays a critical role in the material circulation of grassland. Mowing and grazing sheep are important means of utilizing grassland. This study investigated the effects of nitrogen deposition, sheep grazing and mowing on the soil, vegetation and soil microorganisms of grassland. N deposition increased soil inorganic nitrogen, SOM and microbial activity, and decreased soil pH, while grazing sheep and mowing had opposing effects. Compared with mowing, grazing sheep decreased the range of grass groups in the community. N deposition increased the proportion of Leymus chinensis in the community and decreased community diversity. N deposition enhanced the contribution rate of soil to the vegetation community, and reduced the effect of microorganisms on the vegetation community. In addition, N deposition significantly interacted with mowing and grazing sheep in terms of effects on soil inorganic nitrogen, soil organic matter (SOM), microbial respiration (Q), microbial mass carbon (MBC), and vegetation diversity. Therefore, appropriate N deposition in sheep grazing and mown grasslands could enhance inorganic N and organic matter, increase microbial activity, offset the adverse effects of grazing sheep and mowing, and contribute to maintaining community diversity and grassland productivity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoration of Degraded Grasslands and Sustainable Grazing)
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12 pages, 870 KiB  
Article
Grazing Horse Effects on Desert Grassland Soil Gross Nitrification and Denitrification Rates in Northern China
by Xiaonan Wang, Chengjie Wang, Chengyang Zhou, Shining Zuo, Yixin Ji, Qiezhuo Lamao and Ding Huang
Agriculture 2022, 12(7), 1036; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12071036 - 15 Jul 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1656
Abstract
The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of grazing on soil gross nitrification (GN) and denitrification (DN) rates and soil environmental factors on GN and DN in the desert grassland of northern China. Soil samples were collected from July to [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of grazing on soil gross nitrification (GN) and denitrification (DN) rates and soil environmental factors on GN and DN in the desert grassland of northern China. Soil samples were collected from July to November in 2017 and March to June in 2018, with 5-5 soil samples taken from three enclosures (CK) vs. three heavy-grazing (G) randomized treatment blocks. We determined: (1) the soil moisture (SM), pH, bulk density (BD), total nitrogen (TN), soil organic carbon (SOC), and inorganic nitrogen (IN, NH4+-N, and NO3-N) content, and (2) GN and DN. The relationship between the changes in GN, DN, and the soil environment was analyzed using stepwise multiple-regression analysis. Gross nitrification, DN, pH, BD, C/N, SM, IN, and NO3-N varied significantly by month. Grazing induced significant increases in SM and NO3 only. GN in the CK treatment was related to NH4+-N and NO3-N, while GN in the G treatment was related to NH4+-N and SM. DN in the CK treatment was related to NH4+-N, while DN in the G treatment was related to C/N. Additionally, GN and DN had obvious seasonal variations and reached a maximum in July. This highlights the different underlying mechanisms that affect soil GN and DN and the dynamics, particularly in the desert grassland system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoration of Degraded Grasslands and Sustainable Grazing)
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16 pages, 922 KiB  
Article
The Impact of the Renovation of Grassland on the Development of Segetal Weeds in Organic Farming
by Eliza Gaweł, Mieczysław Grzelak, Bogusława Waliszewska and Magdalena Janyszek-Sołtysiak
Agriculture 2022, 12(5), 738; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12050738 - 23 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1887
Abstract
The intensive use or discontinuation of the use of swards can compromise biodiversity, yields, and feed quality; thus, leading to the degradation of permanent grasslands. Various methods of renovation are employed to restore the usability of degraded swards. In the years 2013–2016, a [...] Read more.
The intensive use or discontinuation of the use of swards can compromise biodiversity, yields, and feed quality; thus, leading to the degradation of permanent grasslands. Various methods of renovation are employed to restore the usability of degraded swards. In the years 2013–2016, a monofactorial field experiment was carried out on the Experimental Farm in Grabów (province of Mazowieckie, Poland). The experiment involved swards being reseeded after ploughing (P) and after disking with a compact harrow (H), with a non-renovated sward as the control treatment. The plots under renovation were reseeded with a lucerne–grass mixture. Both seedbed preparation methods for the renewed sward, ploughing (P) or shallow disking to a depth of 5 cm (H), were found to be effective for increasing sward yields, restricting weed growth, and reducing the number of weeds in the sward. The ploughing-based renovation method (P) had a strongly restrictive effect on biodiversity, as expressed by the H’ function value vis-à-vis the harrow method (H) and the non-renewed control (NR). Dicotyledonous species accounted for 92.3% of the weed population in the studied treatments. Of these, Taraxacum officinale, Achillea milefolium, Capsella bursa-pastoris, and Plantago maior occurred in the highest numbers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoration of Degraded Grasslands and Sustainable Grazing)
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Review

Jump to: Research

15 pages, 2198 KiB  
Review
Research Progress of Soil and Vegetation Restoration Technology in Open-Pit Coal Mine: A Review
by Daolong Xu, Xiufen Li, Jian Chen and Jianghua Li
Agriculture 2023, 13(2), 226; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13020226 - 17 Jan 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3479
Abstract
Open-pit mining has caused extensive land destruction, including land abandonment and reduction in agricultural land, resulting in serious environmental problems. Ecological restoration and mine reclamation have become important components of the sustainable development strategies in Inner Mongolia, China. Therefore, the rehabilitation of mines [...] Read more.
Open-pit mining has caused extensive land destruction, including land abandonment and reduction in agricultural land, resulting in serious environmental problems. Ecological restoration and mine reclamation have become important components of the sustainable development strategies in Inner Mongolia, China. Therefore, the rehabilitation of mines and agricultural land is vital and has attracted widespread attention from the Chinese government. In this light, we reviewed the progress of mine restoration technologies in China in recent years and summarized the integrated technology of open-pit mine reclamation with microbial restoration technology as the core, ecological vegetation restoration as the essential, and soil restoration and improvement as the promotion. As a cost-effective and environmentally beneficial technique, combining the microbial recovery technology with vegetation and the recovery of vegetation and the improvement of the soil is widely recommended in the mining reclamation area. At the same time, we comprehensively analyzed the current status and progress of ecological restoration technology and put forward the development direction of green mining in the future. In conclusion, this review can provides guiding the sustainable development of green, ecological mines, as well as provide reference for mining reclamation and agricultural land restoration and other related fields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoration of Degraded Grasslands and Sustainable Grazing)
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