Nature and climate News | Scientific ecology

Shrubs in the pasture will increase groundwater recharge: the invasion of woody plants

Shrubs in the pasture will increase groundwater recharge

The scientists name the process of transition of areas with pasture meadows in the territory with shrubs as the invasion of woody plants. That happens all over the world. It turns out that this process can be controlled. This is one of the most common forms of the land use on the planet. Its result is the return of the grass cover to the restoration and increase in the level of water that falls into the underground aquifers.

Adam Schreiner-McGraw who works in the University of California paid attention to this issue by compiling a model of bush invasion in a sloping landscape. He found that this led to a significant increase in the volume of water that flows into the underground currents.


The effect of the shrubs is so powerful that it is able to balance the average annual rainfall during periods of climate change. Prior to this discovery, science believed that all woody plants, such as trees and shrubs, have deeper roots than grass. Such conclusions were made based on the study of root bases on a flat surface.

But the ecosystem is a complex organism, and it is able to keep under control the expected changes in the process of replenishing groundwater reserves. The climate change is also important in this case, but the vegetation change plays a huge role as well.

Earlier the scientists have studied that issue in isolation, and the latest research is related to the way these two changes combine with each other. Planting shrubs in pasture meadows have always been considered as not the best option, since it reduces the amount of animal feed and leads to bare areas.


But now scientists saw the other side of that process. An increase in the area of meadows with shrub plants leads to an increase in groundwater reserves. Shrubs have more powerful and deeper root systems and capture more water than grass. Thanks to that fact underground aquifers replenish with water.