CRYPTOGAMIC SOIL LOSS & OTHER CONSEQUENCES of CATTLE GRAZING on PUBLIC LANDS
A Photo-essay in which we:
(1) show range-cattle effects on Cryptogamic Crusts, AKA Biological Soils or crusts, Microbiotic Soils or Cryptobiotic Soils.
Cattle trampling results in loss of these soils, encourages weed spread, particularly cheat grass and knap weed, forest expansion into grasslands and has various other land degrading effects. Beneficial effects include maintenance of soil stability, atmospheric nitrogen fixing, infiltration, nutrient contributions and resistance to water and wind erosion. See Addendum to read more on Cryptogamic Crusts/Soils and Cheatgrass.
(2) show other damaging effects by range-cattle on grasslands and vegetation, including inhibited recovery of plant communities as a result of overgrazing, soil compaction, time of grazing.
While this article illustrates some of the degrading effects of range-cattle grazing, other damaging effects, particularly in riparian zones, impact water quality and quantity. These effects are the subject of several other reports on our website, documenting damage and water contamination.
See the full article with pictures: here
An area ungrazed by cattle. Here the Cryptogamic crusts provide
protection against weed growth and forest ingrowth.