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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Natural Resource Management

First Advisor

Alexander J. Smart


Mob grazing is a type of management intensive grazing system that mimics natural grazing systems where high stocking densities are placed on the land for a short period of time. One way producers measure their success with this system is by the amount of trampled vegetation present after grazing. Producers who have mob grazed for multiple seasons believe this technique improves nutrient cycling through increased trampling, which “feeds the soil bugs”. In order to quantify the effects this trampled vegetation has on ecosystem processes, we observed litter decomposition, soil moisture, and soil temperature in mob grazed areas compared to the extremes of the spectrum: Ungrazed and Bare ground plots. This study was conducted at four producer locations in South Dakota, near Quinn, Chamberlain, Eureka, and Volga in 2013 and 2014. Each study site had different stocking densities at various times of the growing season and differed in vegetation composition as well as climate conditions. Three treatments with 2 replicates were set up at each location: Ungrazed vegetation, Bare ground (litter removed), and Mob grazed. In order to measure soil moisture and soil temperature, soil sensors connected to automated data loggers were installed below each treatment. Litter bags were installed on the treatments post grazing. Two types of litter with two replicates were installed on every treatment. Types of litter were classified as: old and new. Litter bags were removed at first frost to determine overall decomposition of each treatment at each site. Litter quality was analyzed in the lab for pre-incubation and post-incubation litter. Litter quality components analyzed included C, N, acid detergent fiber (ADF), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), and hemicellulose. Soil temperature and soil moisture varied significantly between treatments at certain sites in certain years (p


Includes bibliographical references (pages 55-62)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



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