Submitted to: Workshop Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: March 27, 2006
Publication Date: November 12, 2005
Citation: Sanderson, M.A. 2005. Management of mixed swards in temperate regions. Proceedings of the 2nd COST 852 workshop held in Grado, Italy. p95-101. Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.
Technical Abstract: Pasture ecosystems can be highly biodiverse, with a complex array of organisms contributing to proper ecosystem functioning. Within the broad range of biodiversity in pastures, plant species diversity may be the most amenable to manipulation or management. Postulated benefits of plant species diversity in experimental grasslands include greater and more stable primary production along with more efficient nutrient use. Most information on the potential benefits of increased plant diversity comes from studies of synthesized grasslands that have not included domestic grazing animals. Some research in pasture ecosystems suggests that greater plant species diversity benefits herbage productivity and resistance to weed invasion. Little research has been done that has examined effects of plant species diversity on primary and secondary productivity at larger (pasture) scales. Species identity, abundance, and their spatial distribution across the landscape are critical features in pasturelands. Managing for high forage species diversity may not be appropriate for a highly productive, stable environment where the main objective is maximum forage production. Most temperate pasturelands, however, are highly variable in soils, landscapes, and climate and often fulfill multiple functions for producers (e.g., animal production and resource protection). It is in these situations where greater plant diversity may be most beneficial.