Overgrazing can occur under continuous or rotational grazing. It can be induced by having too many animals on the farm or by not properly controlling their grazing activity. Overgrazing reduces palatable plant leaf areas, which reduces interception of sunlight and plant growth. Plants become weakened and have reduced root length, and potentially the pasture sod can be weakened although in many locales overgrazing results in an increased sod vigour dominated by unpalatable grasses. The reduced root length makes the plants more susceptible to death during dry weather. A weakened sod provides weed seeds to develop and grow.
Effects of Overgrazing
- Overgrazing normally increases soil erosion. Reduction in soil depth, soil organic matter and soil fertility impair the land’s future natural and agricultural productivity. Soil fertility can sometimes be mitigated by applying the appropriate lime and organic fertilizers. Even So, the loss of soil depth and organic matter takes centuries to correct. Their loss is serious in determining the soil’s water-holding capacity and how well pasture plants do during dry weather. Native plant grass species, both individual bunch grasses and in grasslands, are particularly vulnerable.
- Overgrazing reduces the usefulness, productivity, and biodiversity of the land and is one cause of desertification and erosion. Overgrazing is also found as a cause of the spread of invasive species of non-native plants and of grasses.
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