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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Effects of livestock breed and grazing intensity on grazing systems: 3. Effects on diversity of vegetation

Published source details

Scimone M., Rook A.J., Garel J.P. & Sahin N. (2007) Effects of livestock breed and grazing intensity on grazing systems: 3. Effects on diversity of vegetation. Grass and Forage Science, 62, 172-184


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

Use traditional breeds of livestock Farmland Conservation

A randomized, replicated trial from 2002 to 2004 in France, Germany and the UK, (Scimone et al. 2007) (same study as (Scimone et al. 2007)) found that grazing using traditional breeds of livestock made no difference to the number of plant species on agricultural grasslands compared to grazing with commercial breeds. There were on average 25, 17 and 10 plant species in plots grazed with commercial breeds (in France, Germany and the UK respectively) compared to 24, 17 and 11 plant species in plots grazed with traditional breeds. Productive, species-poor grasslands (UK site), species-rich semi-natural grasslands (France) and moderately species-rich ‘mesotrophic’ grasslands (Germany) were used in the experiment. Sites were grazed continously with cows. Treatments were replicated three times at each site. Paddocks 0.4 to 3.6 ha in size were leniently grazed with either a traditional or a commercial breed. Plants were monitored in ten fixed 1 m2 quadrats in each paddock in April-May, June-July and August-September from 2002 to 2004. Other plant species seen within 5 m of the quadrats were also recorded. An additional study site grazed by sheep in Italy was also included in the analysis but is not reported here because it falls outside the geographical range of this synopsis.

 

Reduce grazing intensity on grassland (including seasonal removal of livestock) Farmland Conservation

A randomized, replicated trial from 2002 to 2004 in the UK, Germany and France (Scimone et al. 2007) (same study as (Wallis De Vries et al. 2007)) found that reduced grazing intensity led to a reduction in the number of plant species at a productive species-poor grassland site (UK), but not at the other two sites: species-rich, semi-natural grassland (France) and moderately species-rich ‘mesotrophic’ grasslands (Germany). At the UK site, moderately grazed plots had on average 11.4 plant species, while lightly grazed plots had 10.2 species and were dominated by grasses. Under reduced grazing, the structural diversity (patchiness) of vegetation decreased at the UK site but increased at the German site. Paddocks 0.4 to 3.6 ha in size were either moderately or leniently grazed with a commercial livestock breed, with treatments replicated three times. Actual grazing rates differed according to local conditions, but lenient grazing treatments were 0.3-0.4 fewer animals/ha than the moderate grazing rates. Sites were grazed continuously with cattle. Plants were monitored in ten fixed 1 m2 quadrats in each paddock in April-May, June-July and August-September from 2002 to 2004. Other plant species seen within 5 m of the quadrats were also recorded. An additional study site grazed by sheep in Italy was also included in the analysis but is not reported here because it falls outside the geographical range of this synopsis.