Organic Matter

PBG10 Soil physical and chemical characteristics in the Patch-Burn Grazing experiment at Konza Prairie


PBG datasets are associated with a long-term, large-scale study that is addressing the effects of fire-grazing interactions in the context of a Patch-Burn Grazing management system designed to promote grassland heterogeneity. Effects of patch-burn grazing management on plant and animal diversity and the nature and variety of wildlife habitat are being assessed in two replicate management units, each consisting of three pastures (watersheds) designated C03A/C03B/C03C and C3SA/C3SB/C3SC. In each patch-burn grazing unit, one watershed is burned and two that are left unburned in a given year. The burning treatments are rotated annually so that each pasture is burned every third year. Each patch-burn grazing unit is paired with an annually-burned pasture for comparison with traditional grazing systems (C01A and C1SB). All grazing units are stocked with cow/calf pairs from approximately 1 May until 1 Oct at a stocking density equal to 3.2 ha per cow/calf. To examine the impact of patch burning and grazing in all 8 units, we monitor changes in plant species composition, residual biomass, grassland bird populations, insect populations, small mammal populations, soil nutrients, and stream water quality1 (1C3SA/C3SB/C3SC unit only). The KSU Department of Animal Science monitors cattle performance, including weight gain and body condition to assess the economic feasibility of using patch-burn management on a widespread basis.

This data set focuses on measuring bulk density, soil organic matter, pH, cation exchange capacity, soil cations (Ca++, Mg++, Na+), phosphorous and total Kjeldahl nitrogen of soils at the vegetation transects in C3SA, C3SB, C3SC. C1SB, C3A, C3B, C3C, and C1A.

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An Oakfield Soil Sampler, with a coring diameter of 3/4" (19.05 mm) is used to obtain soil. Litter is scraped off of the surface prior to inserting the tube. Soils are sampled to a depth of 5 cm at all upland sites. A composite sample is obtained by taking ten 5 cm cores along each of the vegetation transects and mixing these together in plastic zip-closed bags.

All samples were stored at 5-10 oC until they could be processed. The samples were sieved through a #5 U.S.A. Standard Testing sieve (4 mm opening). All visible rocks and large root fragments are subsequently removed from the sieved soil. Sorting takes approximately 20 minutes for each composite sample. Sieved soil is returned to the plastic sampling bag and submitted to the K.S.U. Soils Testing Laboratory for chemical analyses. Upon completion of analysis, any remaining soil is returned to KSU Biology for archival storage.

Bulk density data are obtained from the individual cores placed in soil tins. These are air‑dried and weighed, sieved (as above) and reweighed, then dried at 105oC and weighed a final time. No chemical analyses are performed on these samples.

Locations of Archived Soil Samples: Bushnell Annex 121

Procedures for Chemical:

KSU Soils Testing Laboratory used their standard test procedures. Details about their various procedures may be found through their website:

For additional metadata information see:

For additional methods information see:

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