Herbs

Herbs are non-woody plants that usually die at the end of the season. Herb-layer biomass includes all annual plants, regenerated saplings and grass biomass. Herb-layer plots are usually small (1 x 1 m) but more numerous. Biomass in the herb layer is part of the annual carbon cycle and is estimated by harvesting during the peak growth period. Methods for estimating biomass from grassland are given in Section 10.11.4. Parameters Species name, number of plants and fresh weight of standing herb biomass are the parameters to be recorded.

Frequency ofestimation The biomass of herbs is recorded annually during the peak growth period.

Demarcation of herb plots and the boundary Herb plots are usually 1 x 1 m and marked at the two opposing corners of each shrub plot (Fig. 10.5). Measurement of herb vegetation Measuring herb vegetation involves recording the species name and harvesting the herb biomass to determine its weight. The following steps could be adopted:

Step 1: Record the species name and number in each herb plot. The percentage of ground covered by herbs in the plot could also be recorded, by species, based on visual observation. Step 2: Select the peak month of biomass growth for harvesting. Alternatively, adopt the method described for grasses in Section 10.11.4. Cut the herb plants, by species, in each herb plot. Step 3: Take the fresh weight of the herb biomass, again by species. Step 4: Estimate the dry weight by taking a small sample of fresh herb biomass and drying it to constant weight in an oven.

If there is any ban on harvesting certain herb species, avoid harvesting those species. Also avoid harvesting saplings or seedlings of valuable tree species.

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