Submitted to: Extension Fact Sheets
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: March 27, 2008
Publication Date: March 27, 2008
Citation: Goslee, S.C. 2008. Pasture diversity and management. Extension Fact Sheets. Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.
Technical Abstract: Scientists at the USDA-ARS Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit have been collecting pasture plant biodiversity data for over ten years and across the northeastern United States. We have identified more than three hundred species of vascular plants. The average pasture in this region has 31 plant species, but pastures with over seventy species have been sampled. These numbers are similar to the species richness data from unmanaged native cool season grasslands in other parts of the world. Despite the high overall richness of these pastures, pasture quality on many farms suffers due to poor diversity of forage species, and particularly low legume content. The presence of these diverse grasslands within the region contributes to habitat for birds, animals and insects, but manipulating the forage plant diversity in these systems may increase profitability for the farmer without negative impacts on other ecological processes.