A comparison of runoff quantity and quality among three cattle stocking treatments

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Virginia Tech


Measurements of runoff quantity and quality from three cattle stocking treatments applied to pastureland in southwestern Virginia indicate the need for further research to determine treatment effects. Three cattle stocking treatments (1) Continuous, 2) Rotational, and 3) Mob) were applied to three pastures at the Virginia Tech Prices Fork Research Farm. Rainfall simulations were performed over replicated plots in each treatment to induce runoff for collection of runoff quantity and quality data during the 2012 grazing season. Additionally, rainfall simulations were performed prior to applying the grazing treatments to establish initial conditions. Monitored runoff quantity and quality response variables included runoff depth, mean nutrient concentrations, and nutrient mass loss. Response variables were compared among the three pastures for initial conditions and among treatments for post-treatment conditions. Additionally, the trends in response variables within the 2012 season were compared among treatments. Plot and rainfall conditions that were expected to influence responses were also collected and analyzed in relation to response variables. Analyses of the response variables suggested that the variability within treatments likely muted any treatment effect on the response variables. Therefore, we concluded that further research is needed to determine treatment effects on runoff quantity and quality.



runoff, Water quality, rainfall simulation, pasture, cattle stocking method