Management for grassland biodiversity

  • Published source details Nösberger J. & Kessler W. (1997) Management for grassland biodiversity. Proceedings of the International Occasional Symposium of the European Grassland Federation, Warszawa-Lomża, Poland, 33-42.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Reduce management intensity on permanent grasslands (several interventions at once)

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Reduce chemical inputs in grassland management

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Reduce management intensity on permanent grasslands (several interventions at once)

    A 1997 review of experimental evidence (largely published in German language) (Nösberger & Kessler 1997) described an experiment on reduced management intensity in upland grassland in Wales. This showed that without cutting or grazing, important pasture species such as perennial rye grass Lolium perenne and white clover Trifolium repens were lost within two years (Fothergill et al. 1994). Both species were maintained by an annual summer cut.

    Additional reference:

    Fothergill M., Davies D.A. & Morgan C.T. (1994) Extensification of upland pasture in Britain. Proceedings of the New Zealand Grassland Association, 56, 219-222.


  2. Reduce chemical inputs in grassland management

    A review of experimental evidence (largely published in German language) in 1997 (Nösberger & Kessler 1997) described a 40 year experiment with different fertilizer application rates on the Eggenalp, in the Bernese Oberland, Switzerland (Baumberger et al. 1996) which found that the number of plant species was highest on unfertilized plots and decreased as fertilizer rates increased. There were fewer than 40 species in all fertilized plots (fertilizer application rates not given here).

    Additional references:

    Baumberger N., Koch B., Thomet P., Christ H. & Gex P. (1996) Entwicklung der artenvielfalt im langzeitversuch Eggenalp [Development of species diversity in the Eggenalp long-term experiment]. Agrarforschung, 3, 275-278.

  3. Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

    A 1997 review of experimental evidence (Nösberger & Kessler 1997) concluded that a combination of management changes and introducing plant species is necessary to restore species-rich grassland. A four year study from 1991 to 1995 (Steinegger & Koch 1997) in Switzerland found that a late hay cut and no fertilization did not restore a species-poor rye grass Lolium spp. sward to a species-rich meadow. The number of plant species gradually increased to 40 on plots where additional plant species were repeatedly sown in. Another study  (Lehmann et al. 1996) found removing the existing grass sward and re-sowing with a tailored mix of at least 30 species (12 grasses, 5-7 legumes and 13-16 herbs) was the most reliable and quickest way to restore species-rich grassland.

    Additional references:

    Lehmann J., Rosenberg E., Bassetti P. & Mosimann E. (1996) Standardmischungen fur den Futterbau. Agrarforschung, 3, 489-500.

    Steinegger R. & Koch B. (1997) Naturschutzerische optimierung okologischer ausgleichsflachen. Agrarforschung, 4, 35-38.

Output references
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