The effects of removing sheep grazing on soil chemistry, above-ground nutrient distribution, and selected aspects of soil fertility in long-term experiments at Moor House National Nature Reserve.
The long term effects of sheep grazing were investigated by comparing soil chemistry, the distribution of nutrients in vegetation and the nutrient supplying capacity of soils in grazed and ungrazed plots at eight upland sites at Moor House NNR. There were no consistent trends in soil chemistry between grazed and ungrazed plots, with some ungrazed plots becoming more acidic, and others less so. However there was an increase in the above ground dry matter and nutrient content of the litter component in the ungrazed plots. Concentrations of N, K and P were all higher in ungrazed plots. Plant growth bioassays indicated differences between sites, but not between grazed and ungrazed plots, suggesting that sustained sheep grazing does not necessarily reduce soil fertility.