Measurement of above-ground plant biomass, forage availability and grazing impact by combining satellite image processing and fied survey in a dry area of north-eastern Syria
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Masahiro Hirata, Naoki Kogab, Hitoshi Shinjo, Haruhiro Fujita, Gustave Gintzburger, J. Ishida, Miyazaki Akira. (22/2/2005). Measurement of above-ground plant biomass, forage availability and grazing impact by combining satellite image processing and fied survey in a dry area of north-eastern Syria. Grass and Forage Science, 60 (1), pp. 25-33.
Field survey and satellite image processing methods were used to estimate the total available forage over an area of 95 034 ha in north‐eastern Syria, and to assess grazing impact on the area. The above‐ground plant biomass was measured by a quadrat method at three sites in each of eight vegetation classes. Available forage was measured by excluding woody parts of shrubs from the whole aerial plant parts. The total above‐ground plant biomass and available forage were estimated by extrapolating the measured point data to the whole target area using classified vegetation data by satellite image processing. Grazing impact was assessed by calculating the differences between the total available forage at the end of growing season and the end of dry season. The values for the estimated total available forage (s.e. of mean) in the area were 55 628 000 (12 920 000) kg DM and 30 007 000 (2 437 000) kg DM at the end of growing season and dry season respectively. Although the area of the cereal fields covered only 0·315 of the area, about 0·69 and 0·82 of the available forage existed in the harvested cereal fields at the ends of growing season and dry season respectively. The integration of cereal fields and rangeland is a normal land use system for livestock management in the area. The higher cover of herbaceous vegetation types showed higher grazing impacts which reduced the total available forage at the end of the growing season by 0·817 (0·199) at the end of the dry season. Although these dense herbaceous vegetation types could possibly produce more available forage, they would incur more intensive grazing impact. On the contrary, lighter grazing impact would occur with a higher cover of shrub vegetation types. The importance of maintaining plant cover over the rangeland area to protect the land against soil erosion is stressed.
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