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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Reduced fertilization and grazing intensity do not enhance the number of plant species on a grassland in the Netherlands, after fifteen years

Published source details

Neuteboom J.H., t'Mannetje L., Lantinga E.A. & Wind K. (1994) Botanical composition, yield and herbage quality of swards of different age on organic meadowlands. 15th Meeting of the European Grassland Federation, Netherlands, 320.


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 trial from 1972 to 1989 on a grassland in the Netherlands (Neuteboom et al. 1994) found that the number of plant species hardly increased over a twelve-year period of reduced fertilization, and the abundance of herbaceous (non-grass) species decreased. From 1986 to 1988 no fertilizer was applied and there was no increase in the number of plant species. By 1990, only two herb species (cuckoo flower Cardamine pratensis and meadow buttercup Ranunculus acer now R. acris) were present in more than 5% of 100 vegetation samples. The authors suggest that plant diversity did not increase because of the dense growth of a small number of competitive grass species. Species that could have colonized were present on the field borders and ditches. The 6.6 ha grassland in the Netherlands (location unknown) had been fertilized at 200 kg N/ha, grazed and mown for silage for many years. From 1973-1985, fertilizer was reduced to 50 kg N/ha. The stocking rate was five steers/ha from April to July, then 3.5 steers/ha until October. From 1986-1988, no fertilizer was applied. Three paddocks of 2.2 ha had stocking rates of 2.3, 3.6 or 4.9 steers/ha from April to October.

 

 

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

A trial from 1986 to 1989 on a grassland in the Netherlands (Neuteboom et al. 1994) found no difference in the number of plant species between three different cattle stocking rates. No fertilizer was applied during the study. By 1990, only two herb species (cuckoo flower Cardamine pratensis and meadow buttercup Ranunculus acer now R. acris) were present in more than 5% of 100 vegetation samples. The authors suggest that plant diversity did not increase because of the dense growth of a small number of competitive grass species. Species that could have colonized were present on the field borders and ditches. The 6.6 ha grassland had been grazed at a rate of five steers/ha from April to July, then 3.5 steers/ha until October, from 1973 until 1985. From 1986 onwards it was divided into three 2.2 ha paddocks, each grazed at a single fixed stocking rate - either 2.3, 3.6 or 4.9 steers/ha from April to October.