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Fire Ecology

Soil and Nutrient Cycling

Soil and Nutrient Cycling

Fire and grazing are interactive disturbance processes that are important to the structure and function of grassland ecosystems including the soils. There have been numerous studies of nitrogen (N) availability in grasslands that have reported different effects following grazing and fire. However, these studies have largely neglected the interaction between fire and grazing. When comparing patches within a patch burn system it was found that N availability was highest on the most recently burned and grazed patches relative to the previously burned and grazed patches (Figure 5). Nitrogen availability was also compared to an annually burned and grazed pasture, with N availability being greater on the patch burn sites (Figure 5). This greater N availability assists with creating great plant diversity across the patch burned landscape and providing nutritious forage for livestock and wildlife.

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Figure 5. There is greater available nitrogen from patch burning than from grazing and annually burning the entire pasture (from Anderson et al. 2006).

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