Nutrient limitation after long-term nitrogen fertilizer application in cut grasslands

  • Published source details Van Der Woude B.J., Pegtel D.M. & Bakker J.P. (1994) Nutrient limitation after long-term nitrogen fertilizer application in cut grasslands. Journal of Applied Ecology, 31, 405-412.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

    A study of a former improved grassland over 16 years in the Netherlands (Van Der Woude et al. 1994) found that plant species richness was lower in the fertilized compared to unfertilized plot, even after 16 years. One plot was treated with nitrogen fertilizer in an attempt to remove nutrients, other than nitrogen, from the grassland via hay removal. Although there was a peak in above-ground biomass in the fertilized plot in 1977 (900 g/m² vs 400 g/m²), in 1986, biomass in the fertilized plot started to decrease and by 1990 was the same as in the unfertilized plot (300 g/m²). There were no significant differences in soil chemical variables after 16 years. The authors conclude that fertilizer application as a conservation measure does not seem appropriate for restoring species-rich grassland. In 1972 the grassland was taken out of production, fertilizer addition ceased and vegetation was mown and removed in late July-early August. Two adjacent 20 x 10 m plots were established in 1973, one received nitrogen-fertilizer (50 kg/ha/year) and the other was unfertilized. Plant species composition and above-ground standing crop was sampled from 1972 onwards.


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