Effect of three intensities of clipping on the density and production of meadow vegetation

  • Published source details Pond F.W. (1961) Effect of three intensities of clipping on the density and production of meadow vegetation. Journal of Range Management, 14, 34-38.


Meadows bordering streams provide important forage for grazing animals in the Bighorn National Forest of Wyoming (northwest USA). A study was undertaken on three meadows, one almost of entirely native vegetation (summarised here) and two mostly of non-native plants, of how best to graze these meadows to maintain their integrity and productivity.

Three intensities of clipping (simulating grazing) were applied to three meadows from 1952 through 1955. Vegetation in one comprised almost entirely native sedges and grasses (primarily ovalhead sedge Carex festivella, beaked sedge C.rostrata, Raynold’s sedge C.raynoldsi, dunhead sedge C.phaeocephala, baltic rush Juncus balticus and tufted hairgrass Deschampsia cespitosa) and forbs. Vegetation in the other two was dominated by non-native Kentucky blue grass Poa pratensis and white clover Trifolium repens (not considered further).

Two cages (about 2.5 x 2.5 m) were erected to exclude large grazing mammals. Within each, six (30 x 60 cm) plots were clipped annually from 1952 to 1955, inclusive. Treatments (2 replicates each) were:
1) clipped to 2.5 cm height every two weeks;
2) clipped to 7.5 cm height every two weeks;
3) clipped to 2.5 cm height at the end of the growing season (about 15 September);
4) unclipped (control).
Measurements of vegetation density (species cover) and forage production (dry weight from clippings, all species combined) were measured in 1952 and 1956. Rainfall during three of the four years was below average.

Clipping to 2.5 cm every two weeks reduced total density and production of grasses and sedges (total graminoids 55.5% cover in 1952, 18.0% in 1956) with some species e.g. beaked sedge (7.5% cover in 1952) disappearing from both plots.
Clipping to 7.5 cm every two weeks had relatively little effect on plant density (total graminoids 56.5% cover in 1952, 44.5% in 1956) but production deceased, primarily through a reduction in sedges.
Non-native Kentucky blue grass absent in both sets of these plots in 1952 had 2.0% cover in clipped to 2.5 cm every two weeks plots and 8.0% cover in 7.5 cm clipped plots, in 1956. It was however present in the control plots in 1952 (4.5% cover) but decreased by 1956 (3.0%).
Clipping at the end of the growing season had little effect on native species.
Note: If using or referring to this published study, please read and quote the original paper, this can be viewed at:

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