Submitted to: Agronomy Abstracts
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/15/2005
Publication Date: 3/24/2005
Citation: Sanderson, M.A., Goslee, S.C. 2005. Plant diversity in pastures: management implications. In: Proceedings of the Appalachian Grazing Conference. March 22-24, 2005, Morgantown, West Virginia. 2004 CDROM. Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.
Technical Abstract: Producers face new challenges in pasture management including sustainability, reducing inputs of fertilizers and pesticides, and protecting soil resources. Some suggest that increased biodiversity may be one tool to aid producers in meeting these new challenges. This paper addresses some common questions regarding biodiversity in pastures. Reported benefits of plant diversity in grasslands include: increased forage production, greater ecosystem stability in response to disturbance, reduced invasion by exotic species such as weeds, and greater nutrient cycling and retention. The studies indicating benefits for plant diversity suggest that managing for increased plant species diversity on pasturelands could increase forage yield, improve yield stability, and reduce soil nutrient losses. Some view diversity as a sort of insurance policy where different species contribute in their own time or can take the place of species that fail from stress or mismanagement. Much of this research has been done in small plots; very little applied research on plant diversity has been done at the pasture or farm scale. One key piece of information we lack is how complex mixtures of forages might influence animal production (e.g., milk or meat production) on pastures.