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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: The impact of organic and inorganic fertilizers and lime on the species-richness and plant functional characteristics of hay meadow communities

Published source details

Kirkham F.W., Tallowin J.R.B., Sanderson R.A., Bhogal A., Chambers B.J. & Stevens D.P. (2008) The impact of organic and inorganic fertilizers and lime on the species-richness and plant functional characteristics of hay meadow communities. Biological Conservation, 141, 1411-1427


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Reduce chemical inputs in grassland management Farmland Conservation

A randomized, replicated, controlled study in 1999-2005 on four hay meadow sites in Cumbria and Monmouthshire, UK (Kirkham et al. 2008) found that applying fertilizer reduced the number of plant species. The number of species declined at all sites when 24 t/ha/year of farmyard manure was applied. The maximum level of manure that could be applied without reducing species richness depended on past site management. The study compared two pairs of unimproved and semi-improved meadows. On the semi-improved Cumbrian meadow, which had previously been fertilized, species richness was unaffected when manure was applied at 12 t/ha/year. However, on the Monmouthshire meadows, which had no recent history of fertilizer use, species richness was reduced by even low levels of manure (≤ 6 tonnes/ha/year). The effects of liming also depended on past site management. Treatments were applied in March/April in 7 x 5 m plots from 1999 to 2005, with plants surveyed annually in May in three 1 m2 quadrats/plot. Treatments were replicated in three plots at each study site.