Overgrazing by livestock has caused major changes in the productivity and composition of rangeland vegetation in India. The main problem stems from the fact that the carrying capacity of rangelands is low as a result of low vegetation cover, and is decreasing with range degradation. This has an impact on land degradation which affects the rangeland hydrology. Thus the aim of this study was to determine the physio-hydrological responses of soil to different intensities of livestock grazing and land management by comparing the effect of uncontrolled grazed land and fenced off (ungrazed) land. There is a need to understand the hydrology of rangeland so as to propose ways of improving carrying capacity of rangeland. The study site had two different treatments: fenced off to prevent grazing, and uncontrolled grazed treatments. Plant biomass was measured at the end of the season. The results showed that there is a significant difference in infiltration rate and soil moisture among the two treatments. Infiltration rates were substantially greater in summer than in winter. On day 1 the steady infiltration rate in summer was twice the winter rate. The infiltration rate in summer on day 2, which is a better measure of the steady rate, was 2.5 times the winter rate. The differences between seasons were statistically very significant (p < 0.001). The effect of treatments on soil moisture was proportional to the effect of vegetation, as well as the effect of soil type on soil moisture, thus vegetation production depends on soil moisture.
Biomass, Infiltration, Livestock, Rangeland, Soil hydrology
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