Publication Date: 2011.
In managed rangelands periods of low primary productivity determine troughs of forage availability, constraining animal production year-round. Although alternative tools to increase forage availability during critical seasons exists, most of them are unaffordable and short-lived in marginal areas. We explore the potential benefits of deciduous tree plantations favoring winter forage productivity by comparing aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP) patterns in herbaceous understory to tree plantations and natural grasslands in the Pampas (Argentina). These temperate subhumid grasslands are characterized by the coexistence of winter species, mainly C3 grasses of the native genera Stipa, Piptochaetium, and Bromus and the exotic genera Lolium and Festuca) and summer species (mainly C4 grasses of the native genera Paspalum, Bothriochloa, and Stenotaphrum) that replace each other throughout the seasons, with domination of the latter. We hypothesize that the natural decoupling of growing seasons between winter deciduous trees and winter grasses could provide the basis for the sustainable promotion of winter forage. We measured ANPP on two 23-year-old Populus deltoides plantations and their understory and compared them with adjacent open grasslands. Afforested stands had 55–75% higher annual ANPP than their non-afforested neighbors, with trees contributing ~70% to total ANPP. Herbaceous canopies beneath plantations achieved about half of the ANPP observed in non-afforested situations with a contrasting seasonal distribution associated with shifts from C4 to C3 grass dominance. Winter ANPP, the most critical source of forage in these grazing systems, was similar or higher in the herbaceous understory of tree plantations to that on their non-afforested counterparts, suggesting that mixed systems involving deciduous trees and understory pastures are a valid and viable option in the region.
Author affiliation: Nordenstahl, Marisa. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Centro Científico Tecnológico San Luis. Instituto de Matemática Aplicada de San Luis; Argentina
Author affiliation: Gundel, Pedro Emilio. Universidad de Buenos Aires. Facultad de Agronomia. Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambiente. Catedra de Ecologia; Argentina. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Oficina de Coordinación Administrativa Parque Centenario. Instituto de Investigaciones Fisiológicas y Ecológicas Vinculadas a la Agricultura; Argentina
Author affiliation: Clavijo, M. Pilar. Universidad de Buenos Aires. Facultad de Agronomía. Departamento de Produccion Animal. Cátedra de Forrajicultura; Argentina
Author affiliation: Jobbagy Gampel, Esteban Gabriel. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Centro Científico Tecnológico San Luis. Instituto de Matemática Aplicada de San Luis; Argentina. Universidad Nacional de San Luis; Argentina
Repository: CONICET Digital (CONICET). Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas