Examining the short-term impacts of diverse management practices on plant phenology and carbon fluxes of Old World bluestems pasture

Yuting Zhou, Xiangming Xiao, Pradeep Wagle, Rajen Bajgain, Hayden Mahan, Jeffrey B. Basara, Jinwei Dong, Yuanwei Qin, Geli Zhang, Yiqi Luo, Prasanna H. Gowda, James P.S. Neel, Patrick J. Starks, Jean L. Steiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Burning, grazing, and baling (hay harvesting) are common management practices in grassland. To develop and adopt sustainable management practices, it is essential to better understand and quantify the impacts of management practices on plant phenology and carbon fluxes. In this study, we combined multiple data sources, including in-situ PhenoCam digital images, eddy covariance data, and satellite data (Landsat and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)) to examine the impacts of burning, baling, and grazing on canopy dynamics, plant phenology, and carbon fluxes in a pasture in El Reno, Oklahoma in 2014. Landsat images were used to assess the baling area and the trajectory of vegetation recovery. MODIS vegetation indices (VIs) were used in the Vegetation Photosynthesis Model (VPM) to estimate gross primary production (GPPVPM) at a MODIS pixel for the flux tower (baled) site. For comparison between baled and unbaled conditions, we used MODIS VIs for a neighbor MODIS pixel (unbaled) and ran VPM. Daily PhenoCam images and green chromatic coordinate (GCC) tracked canopy dynamics and plant phenology well. The grassland greened up immediately after burning in April. GCC values showed two peaks with the similar magnitude because of quick recovery of grassland after baling. Satellite-derived VIs and GPPVPM showed that the pasture recovered in one month after baling. The GPPVPM matched well (R2 = 0.89) with the eddy covariance-derived GPP (GPPEC). Grazing in the late growing season did not influence plant phenology (VIs and GCC) and carbon uptake (GPP) as plants were in the late growing stage. Neither did it affect GPP differently in those two conditions because of even grazing intensity. The reduction in GPP after baling was compensated by higher GPP after large rain events in late July and early September, causing little seasonal differences in GPP (-0.002 g C m−2 day−1) between the baled and unbaled conditions. Interactions of different management practices with climate make it complicated to understand the impacts of different management practices on carbon dynamics and plant phenology. Thus, it is necessary to further investigate the responses of pastures to different management practices under different climate regimes at multiple temporal and spatial scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-70
Number of pages11
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
StatePublished - May 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Eddy covariance (EC)
  • Green chromatic coordinate (GCC)
  • Gross primary production (GPP)
  • PhenoCam images
  • Plant phenology
  • Vegetation photosynthesis model (VPM)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


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