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The effect of burning and sheep grazing on soil water composition in a blanket bog: evidence for soil structural changes?

By F. Worrall and J. K. Adamson

Abstract

This study considers the impact of managed rotational burning of vegetation and sheep grazing upon the composition of soil waters within an upland peat soil. The study has considered soil water compositions from a complete factorial design of treatment plots where three different burning treatments were considered in replication with grazing and no grazing. All plots were sampled across a complete year with three dipwells in each plot. The study included aluminium (Al), iron, calcium, sodium (Na), magnesium (Mg), potassium, sulphate, chloride (Cl-), bromide, fluoride, phosphate (PO)and nitrate; and in order to clarify the nature of the results, the pH, conductivity and dissolved organic carbon were also considered, but the major results for these are reported elsewhere. The study finds: (1) Ca, Na, Mg and PO concentrations are significantly lower on all burnt plots, with only Al concentration being significantly higher on burnt plots. (2) Only Cl- showed any significant changes (a decrease) with the presence of sheep grazing, and then only when plots were also burnt. (3) A principal component analysis shows that the composition of most soil waters can be described by rainwater and soil water components, but in unburnt plots a base-rich, high ionic strength water is sometimes present. \ud The study suggests that burning, but not grazing, caused significant changes in soil water composition leading to increased interaction between incoming rainwaters and the peat soil but led to loss of interaction with deeper waters. However, no evidence was found for structural change in the soils even after long term (50 years) grazing and burning management. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

Topics: Agriculture and Soil Science, Earth Sciences
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1002/hyp.6848
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:5748
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