Infiltration Rates and Sediment Production as Influenced by Grazing Systems in the Texas Rolling Plains
Journal of Range Management , 40 , 1987

Pluhar, J.J., Knight, R.W., Heitschmidt, R.K.

Research was initiated in August 1982 at the Texas Experimen- tal Ranch to evaluate effect of selected grazing treatments on watershed condition. Two production scale grazing treatments were sampled on 4 dates over a period of 15 months. Treatments were yearlong continuous grazing stocked at a moderate rate (MC) and a 16-paddock rotational grazing treatment stocked at a heavy rate (RG). In addition, hydrologic conditions in an ungrazed exclosure (EX) and a moderately stocked 4-pasture, 3-herd deferred rotation treatment (DR) were examined during the summer of 1982. Regression analyses indicated infiltration rates increased and sediment production declined as vegetation standing crop and cover increased, soil bulk density decreased, and soil organic matter and aggregate stability increased. Averaged across the 4 sample dates, sediment production was least (33 kg/ha) and infiltration rate greatest (89 mm/hr) in the MC treatment as com- pared to the RG treatment (63 kg/ha and 82 mm/hr). Infiltration rates and sediment production in the RG and DR treatments before grazing were not significantly different from those in the MC treatment; however, grazing caused a significant decline in infiltration rates and a significant increase in sediment production in both treatments. Sediment production was least in the exclosure (23 kg/ha) while infiltration rates were generally greater and sedi- ment production less in the midgrass communities as compared to the shortgrass communities. All effects were closely related to the effect of the various treatments on vegetation standing crop and cover.