Increasing the water table is an important pathway to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from peaty soils. In order to continue utilizing grasslands on these soils, methods to increase load bearing capacity at a higher water table are sought. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of sward density on load bearing capacity, measured as both penetration resistance and the newly developed method measuring load bearing capacity through impact depth. Simultaneously, a new method to measure load bearing capacity through impact depth was developed. The study was conducted between 2018 and 2020 on 14 different farms in the western peat meadow district in the Netherlands, where the sward density measured with the point quadrat method ranged from 24% to 92%. Swards with a higher sward density showed a higher load bearing capacity than swards with a lower density. In a modelling approach an increase from 30% sward density to 90% sward density could result in a lengthening of the grazing season between three (11%) and six weeks (22%), depending on the soil moisture conditions. Load bearing capacity was also highly correlated with gravimetric soil moisture content as wetter conditions lowered load bearing capacity. In order to capture load bearing capacity more accurately a new measurement device was constructed which represents treading cattle. Both output (impact depth) and method (resembles cow hoof) are close to practice, which makes it a very suitable method allowing for easy interpretation by farmers.
Higher density swards have a higher load bearing capacity
Pagina's / pages: 10
Type: Wetenschappelijk artikel
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Abstract / summary in English:
Keywords in English: grazing, impact depth, Lolium perenne, meadow, peat, penetration resistance