Submitted to: Southern Pasture and Forage Crop Improvement Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: May 1, 2010
Publication Date: May 9, 2010
Citation: Sanderson, M.A. 2010. Plant Diversity and Multifunctional Management of Grassland Agriculture. In: Southern Pasture and Forage Crop Improvement Conference Proceedings. 2010 CDROM.
Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.
Managing for multiple ecosystem functions and services requires greater ecosystem diversity and complexity. Complex ecosystems, such as forage and grazing lands, may provide multiple benefits and require multiple species. In this paper, I provide a brief perspective from our research conducted in the northeastern U.S. on managing plant species diversity in forage and grazing lands to meet multiple ecosystem services. Agricultural systems based on diverse grasslands have a number of environmental benefits, including soil conservation, improved nutrient cycling, and provision of wildlife habitat. Diverse grasslands can support and even improve livestock production and health. Biologically diverse systems could provide a range of newly-emerging services, including C sequestration and biofuels production. But it must be remembered that as with most agricultural production systems there are tradeoffs between achieving production levels necessary to meet the farmer’s economic sustainability, while at the same time satisfying the demands of an expanding population that wants to eat meat and drink milk, and maintaining the integrity of the agroecosystem.