Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Plants, Soils, and Climate

Committee Chair(s)

Jennifer Reeve


Jennifer Reeve


Karen Beauchemin


Jennifer MacAdam


Jeanette Norton


Pasture-finished beef has become increasingly popular, but nitrogen losses from these pastures are of concern. Legumes containing condensed tannins such as birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) and sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) may serve as environmentally and economically viable alternative forages in pasture finishing systems while reducing soil nitrogen loss. The goal of this project was to understand how tannin type and concentration affects soil nitrogen cycling both in the lab and the field. This thesis: 1) compared the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of soil samples obtained from grazed grass and tannin and non-tannin containing legume pastures, 2) assessed how feces from cattle fed pure forage hays from objective 1 affect soil nitrogen cycling processes and greenhouse gas emissions using a feces-amended soil incubation study, and 3) assessed how forage tannin type and dose affected various nitrogen cycling processes using a tannin-amended soil incubation study with tannins extracted from birdsfoot trefoil and sainfoin leaves. The field and laboratory results of this thesis suggest that tannin-containing legumes can significantly lower rates of nitrogen cycling processes that promote nitrogen loss to the environment. These results confirm that tannin containing legumes may serve as environmentally and economically viable alternative forages in pasture-finished beef production systems.



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