The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Assessing the magnitude of impact of volcanic ash deposits on Merino wool production and fibre traits in the context of a drought in North-west Patagonia, Argentina

M. H. Easdale A B , D. Sacchero A , M. Vigna A and P. Willems A

A Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA) – Bariloche, Modesta Victoria 4450, 8400, Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina.

B Corresponding author. Email: easdale.marcos@inta.gob.ar

The Rangeland Journal 36(2) 143-149 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RJ13124
Submitted: 15 June 2013  Accepted: 10 January 2014   Published: 13 February 2014

Abstract

Environmental variability is a key feature of arid and semiarid rangelands worldwide. Drought is one of the main sources of variation in most extensive livestock production systems in arid environments, with biophysical and socioeconomic implications. The effect of non-climatic disturbance factors, such as volcanic eruption and ash deposits, has been less documented in arid environments. The aim was to assess the magnitude of impact of volcanic ash deposits on Merino wool production and quality that took place in the context of a drought, by making a comparison along a gradient of ash deposition before and after a volcanic eruption. It was found that volcanic ash deposits in the context of a regional drought significantly affected Merino wool production and fibre quality traits in farms from North-western Patagonia, Argentina. The magnitude of the impacts differed among wool traits. It is argued that further research is needed on the impact of ash deposits on wool weights and quality, and that measures of livestock production should be included in environmental monitoring systems at regional and farm levels.

Additional keywords: monitoring, rangelands, semiarid environments, sheep, variability, volcano eruption.


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