Molecular and functional responses of soil microbial communities under grassland restoration

  • Published source details Plassart P., Akpa V.M., Gangneux C., Mercier A., Barray S. & Laval K. (2008) Molecular and functional responses of soil microbial communities under grassland restoration. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 127, 286-293.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Restore or create low input grasslands

Action Link
Soil Fertility
  1. Restore or create low input grasslands

    A controlled experiment from 1968 to 2002 on silty soil in France (Plassart et al. 2008) found greater microbial biomass under permanent grassland (557 μg C/g) compared to arable management (179 μg C/g). Fungal diversity increased by 2.3 to 6.4 times under grassland compared to arable management. Total carbon was highest under permanent (33.3 g/kg) followed by temporary (19.7 g/kg) then restored grassland (18.1 g/kg), compared to arable management (9.5 g/kg). Microbial activity, or the breakdown of carbon, was greater as grassland aged, with decomposed carbon ranging from 2.4% (of total carbon measured) under arable cropping to 5.6% in older temporary grassland. Treatments included: one long-term arable field (> 10 years of wheat Triticum aestivum, maize Zea mays, flax Linum usitatissimum or beetroot Beta vulgaris), one long-term grassland (> 25 years of pasture), two temporary grassland (previously had 2 years of wheat-maize rotations), and three restored grassland fields (re-established after at least eight years of cropping). The six permanent, temporary and restored grasslands were implanted with perennial ryegrass Lolium perenne and clover Trifolium spp. several times throughout the experiment. Each field was divided into three 2 x 40 m plots and soils were sampled in each plot to 10 cm depth.


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