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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Impact of grazing management on biodiversity of grasslands

Published source details

Tallowin J., Rook A.J. & Rutter S.M. (2005) Impact of grazing management on biodiversity of grasslands. Animal Science, 81, 193-198


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 small-scale study over three years on species-poor lowland grassland in the UK (Tallowin et al. 2005) found that at reduced grazing pressure, two cattle breeds created different sward structures and associated invertebrate assemblages (details not provided). Three grazing treatments were studied: commercial breed Charolais × Holstein-Friesian steers at moderate (maintaining 3,000 kg herbage dry matter mass/ha) or lenient (4,500 kg herbage dry matter mass/ha) grazing pressures and North Devon steers (traditional breed) at lenient grazing pressure. Treatments were applied from May to September and grasslands received no fertilizer during the study.

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

A controlled study from 2000 to 2004 in the UK (Tallowin et al. 2005) found that reduced grazing pressure maintained botanical diversity and abundance, enhanced invertebrate diversity and abundance, but increased pernicious weeds on species-rich grasslands. The cover of positive indicator species of grasslands of high nature conservation value remained stable under lenient grazing pressure (8-10% cover), but decreased under severe (from 9% to 5%) and decreased (from 9% to 5%) but then recovered (8%) under moderate grazing pressures. Competitive grass and legume species increased across all treatments. Abundance and diversity of bumblebee Bombus spp. species was higher under moderate (0.34 individuals counted/minute) and lenient grazing (0.38) than severe grazing pressure (0.15). Spider numbers were also significantly higher under lenient (118 individuals/m²) than severe or moderate grazing (68 individuals/m²). Percentage cover of spear thistle Cirsium vulgare and creeping thistle Cirsium arvense increased under all three grazing pressures, but did not differ between treatments (2000: 0.4-1.0% cover; 2004: 2.9-3.6). Species-rich grasslands were grazed over five years with severe (grass height 6 to 8 cm), moderate (8-10 cm) or lenient (10-12 cm) cattle grazing pressures. A fertilized improved pasture was maintained at 6-8 cm as a control.