Dr. Guillermo Hernandez Ramirez | Assistant Professor, Department of Renewable Resources
Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences
University of Albert
Forage productivity, quality and persistence are essential factors for the success and profitability of rangeland operations. Good soil quality is critical for achieving and sustaining these outcomes; it enhances plant performance by facilitating root growth, and also supports other ecosystem services such as water storage and purification, flood regulation and greenhouse gases mitigation. Ranchers and farmers need information on the status of soil quality in their lands so that they can subsequently prioritize areas to implement best management practices for optimization of forage production and grazing systems. Because there is a lack of understanding and information on soil quality indicators in rangelands, Dr. Hernandez Ramirez and co-investigator Dr. Sylvie Quideau (Professor, Renewable Resources) are evaluating spatial patterns of key soil biophysical attributes (such as aggregation, macroporosity, and microbial biomass) in native grassland, improved pasture and irrigated cropland areas of the Mattheis Research Ranch. The results of this study will help researchers to optimize field sampling and modeling techniques, and to extrapolate knowledge about variability in soil quality to other comparable fields or farms. Additionally, the selected soil quality attributes can become suitable indicators of the environmental sustainability of agroecosystems.