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, 320.

Summary

Restoring plant diversity in agricultural grassland is a conservation priority for many European countries, and grazing is preferred to mowing from a farming perspective because it is cheaper.

A 6.6 ha grassland in the Netherlands (location unknown) that had been fertilized (at 200 kg N/ha), grazed and mown for silage for many years was the subject of an extensification experiment from 1973 until 1988. From 1973-1985, fertilizer application was reduced to 50 kg N/ha, with no phosphorus or potassium. 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 each had stocking rates of 2.3, 3.6 and 4.9 steers/ha from April to October.

 

From 1973-1985, the number of plant species hardly increased, and the abundance of herbaceous (non-grass) species decreased. From 1986 onwards, 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, since species that could have colonised were present on the field borders and ditches

Note: If using or referring to this published study, please read and quote the original paper.

 

Output references

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, terrestrial mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 18

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.


Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape Programme Red List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Bern wood Supporting Conservation Leaders National Biodiversity Network Sustainability Dashboard Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx British trust for ornithology Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Butterfly Conservation People trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust