Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



US Army Corps of Engineers, ERDC/CERL TR-05-33


Sustainability of training lands continues to be a primary concern for natural resource managers on Army installations. Tracked vehicle training, the main disturbance of grasslands, does not occur in isolation from other land uses including cattle grazing. Yet, no documented studies exist examining the interactive effects of these activities on soils and vegetation. The objective of this research was to begin filling this knowledge gap. This report reviews the lit-erature documenting the impacts of tracked vehicle training and cattle grazing on soils and grassland plant communities and discusses potential interactive effects. Responses to tracked vehicle training generally included increased soil com-paction, reduced cover and production of perennial grasses, disturbance of biological soil crusts, greaterwind andwater erosion, and less soil carbon storage. When overstocked, cattle grazing often results in similar effects. Concerns are greatest when heavy stocking results in loss of soil cover and replacement of perennial grassland species with annual grasses and forbs. Overall, the literature suggested that intensive cattle grazing of Army training lands might promote greater soil erosion and less desirable plant communities. The consequences of their interaction is likely to be greater in arid grasslands, where recovery mechanisms are slow and desertification is a concern.