Concentration of trace and major elements in mountainous grasslands of Bosnia and Herzegovina in relation to soil properties and plant species
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Many grazing animals are solely or mostly dependent for their dietary needs and essential minerals on the forage available, either in its natural state or conserved as hay or silage. A soil and plant survey was carried out in May 2014, incorporating 100 sampling points, in the area of Manjača and Vlašić Mountains in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Main investigated soil types in the area were Cambisol, Fluvisol, and Leptosol, while botanical composition consisted of wide range of species, mainly of the families Poaceae, Leguminosae, Plantaginaceae, Scrophulariaceae, Asteraceae, Fabaceae, Polygonaceae, Violaeeae, Lamiaceae, Euphorbiaceae,. In total sixty one different species of legumes, herbs and grasses were identified, of which some were categorized as worthless and harmful as animal feed. This study was conducted to investigate the nutrient and trace element status of soil and herbage plants in the sampling area, and to examine the concentrations observed for their potential influence on animal performance. Soil parameters, such are texture, trace element concentrations, pH, SOC, and plant type were considered as a factors affecting trace element concentrations in the forage plants. The soil pH varied from strongly acidic to moderately alkaline. Percentage of SOC varied from 0.5 % to 12.3 %. Soil texture analysis showed that most of the soil samples were high in silt content. The average concentrations of sodium, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, copper, cobalt, and boron were low in both soil and herbage plants. Plant potassium, calcium, magnesium, molybdenum, and manganese concentrations were sufficiently high to meet the requirements of animals, while iron concentrations were even elevated in same sampled areas. High levels of molybdenum have been found in both soil and plants, which may be plant toxic, however, effect on animal is not determined. In conclusion, imbalances observed in natural pastures of Manjača and Vlašić area, caused by low soil trace element status, and other soil and plant properties, could impair animal performance in the studied area.