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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Fertilisation of a Swiss alpine pasture over a 40 year period markedly reduced the number and diversity of plant species

Published source details

Koch B. & Meister E. (2000) Graded management intensity of grassland systems for enhancing floristic diversity. Pages 176 in: D. Gagnaux & J.R. Poffet (eds.) Livestock farming systems: integrating animal science advances in the search of sustainability. 97, Wageningen Pers, Wageningen.


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

Use organic rather than mineral fertilizers Farmland Conservation

A long-term replicated controlled trial from 1956 to 1995 on alpine pasture in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland (Koch & Meister 2000) found that the type of fertilizer used (slurry, PK or NPK) affected the number of plant species, with a significantly greater number of species found on plots fertilized with slurry (on average 36 species) than with NPK fertilizer (on average 29 species), and an intermediate number of species found on plots fertilized with PK. The type of fertilizer did not affect species diversity. Fertilization over a 40 year period reduced the number and diversity of plant species. Plant abundance and diversity (Shannon’s H) were greatest in unfertilized plots, where over 60 species were recorded. N was applied at 83 kg/ha, P as 90 kg/ha phosphate (P205) and K as 180 kg/ha potash (K20). There were four replicates.