Simple field methods for measurement and evaluation of grassland quality

L. Mueller*, A. Behrendt, T. Graham Shepherd, U. Schindler, B.C. Ball, S. Khudyaev, T. Kaiser, R. Dannowski, F. Eulenstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Grasslands and rangelands are very important ecosystems influencing natural cycles and human existence and well-being. Their functional status can be greatly affected by soil and water management. Grasslands are prone to degradation, but comprehensive frameworks and objective criteria for their monitoring are largely absent. Simple field methods of measurement and visual rating may help to detect properties and processes limiting the function of grasslands, and the results used to develop criteria and thresholds of soil and vegetation quality. Methods characterising aspects of the physical, chemical and biological status of grasslands in conjunction with soil survey data are presented here. Soil strength measured with penetrometers, sink cones and shear testers may characterise spatiotemporal alterations of soil resistance conditions best. Important attributes of the soil water status can be measured by TDR probes, field tensiometers and simplified infiltration equipment. Experience and care are necessary when interpreting field measurement data. A number of expert-based approaches for estimating site properties by visual-tactile methods and by bio-indicative vegetation analyses are available and should be utilized more. Some of these methods can be applied solely to study particular aspects of grassland quality like trampling effects under different animals, machinery and grazing systems or trafficability of meadows and measure the compaction status of soil, the quality of soil structure and pasture quality. In many cases a set of methods in combination with an overall assessment of soil quality (Visual Soil Assessment, VSA, and Muencheberg Soil Quality Rating, M-SQR) will provide a reliable assessment of the status of grasslands and rangelands. Methods presented here should be considered and proposed to be used as possible standard components of frameworks for assessing the functional status of grasslands by uniform methodologies over Eurasia. © Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNovel Measurement and Assessment Tools for Monitoring and Management of Land and Water Resources in Agricultural Landscapes of Central Asia
EditorsL Mueller, G Lischeid, A Saparov
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-01016-8
Publication statusPrint publication - 2014

Publication series

NameEnvironment Science and Engineering


  • Grassland ecosystems
  • Indicators
  • Muencheberg Soil Quality Rating
  • Soil quality
  • Soil structure
  • Vegetation


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