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Data from: Above-ground plant properties are not leading indicators of grazing-induced soil carbon accrual in the Northern Great Plains

posted on 2024-04-30, 21:40 authored by Kurt ReinhartKurt Reinhart, Matt Rinella, Richard Waterman, Hilaire Sanni Worogo, Lance T. Vermeire

This is digital research data corresponding to a manuscript, Above-ground plant properties are not leading indicators of grazing-induced soil carbon accrual in the Northern Great Plains, published in Ecological Indicators.

Little is known about how grazing-induced shifts in plant properties correspond with shifts in soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks. To help fill this gap, we used data from a field experiment to test whether above-ground plant properties (i.e. biomass, species richness) act as leading indicators of grazing-induced SOC accrual in the Northern Great Plains, USA.

Our 5-yr bovine grazing experiment had a randomized complete block design and pre-treatment data. Moderate summer grazing (control) is widely used in the Northern Great Plains, and treatments that may alter grassland vegetation and SOC included: severe summer grazing, moderate fall grazing, and severe fall grazing. The four grazing treatments were applied to 20 paddocks (60 × 30 m) arranged in a randomized complete block design with 5 replications. Grazing intensities approximated recommended (i.e. moderate; 1 animal unit month [AUM] × ha-1 × year-1) and severe (1.5 AUM × ha-1 × year-1) stocking rates. Summer grazing occurred during the third week of June and fall grazing was after killing frosts at the end of October.

This study's dataset is of a subset of data for this grazing experiment. Given the study aim's, the dataset included a single measure of SOC stock (0-60 cm depth increment) and three plant properties (current-year above-ground biomass, older dead above-ground biomass, and plant species richness). SOC data were for 2013 and 2018 while plant data were for 2014 and 2017. Additional details can be found in the readme file, open access manuscript, and manuscript's supplement.


USDA-ARS: R5434-21630-003-00D

Climate, Food and Farming Network Global Research Alliance Development Scholarship


Data contact name

Reinhart, Kurt, O.

Data contact email


Ag Data Commons

Intended use

Soil carbon sequestration research.

Use limitations

None. Data are most relevant to grazed semiarid and temperate calcareous grasslands with Pinehill loam soil series (fine, smectitic, frigid Aridic Haplustalfs, or Alfisols).

Temporal Extent Start Date


Temporal Extent End Date



  • irregular


  • Geospatial

Geographic location - description

Near Miles City, Montana, USA. A geospatial file was created that includes GPS coordinates and elevations for every experimental unit (i.e. paddock). This is described in the readme file.

ISO Topic Category

  • environment
  • farming
  • climatologyMeteorologyAtmosphere

National Agricultural Library Thesaurus terms

Great Plains region; grassland management; soil organic carbon; carbon dioxide; greenhouse gas emissions; ranching; phytomass; field experimentation; species richness; cattle; grazing; summer; grasslands; autumn; aboveground biomass; climate

OMB Bureau Code

  • 005:18 - Agricultural Research Service

OMB Program Code

  • 005:040 - National Research

ARS National Program Number

  • 215

ARIS Log Number


Pending citation

  • No

Public Access Level

  • Public