Establishment of species-rich grasslands on arable land - European ...

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Establishment of species-rich grasslands on arable land - European ...

ong>Establishmentong> ong>ofong> ong>speciesong>-ong>richong> ong>grasslandsong> on arable landMartincová J., Kizeková M., Čunderlík J., Ondrášek Ľ. and Pollák Š.PPRC - Grassland and Mountain Agriculture Research Institute, Mládežnícka 36,974 21 Banská Bystrica, SlovakiaCorresponding author: martincova@vutphp.skAbstractHigh nature value grassland covers about 323,000 ha in Slovakia. At present, this grasslandis threatened with cessation ong>ofong> agricultural management in marginal areas and also withconstruction ong>ofong> new motorways, sport resorts, etc. The governmental ‚Nature ProtectionInstitute‘ develops and submits proposals for the high nature value ong>grasslandsong> protection andbiodiversity improvement in accordance with the ‘Act no. 543/2002 Coll. on the nature andlandscape protection’. However, there is lack ong>ofong> knowledge dealing with ong>speciesong>-ong>richong> grasslandrestoration. In 2009, two demonstration trials were established at the Tajov site (647 m a.s.l.)with the aim to use the ong>speciesong>-ong>richong> semi-natural ong>grasslandsong> as a source ong>ofong> valuable materialfor establishing new high nature value areas. Green and dry hay harvested at donor sites withplant communities ong>ofong> Arrhenatherion and Mesobromion was transferred to arable land. Outong>ofong> 26 target ong>speciesong>, 22 were transferred; an 84.6% successful transmission rate.Keywords: restoration, green hay, dry hay, semi-natural ong>grasslandsong>, high nature value farmlandIntroductionSpecies-ong>richong> semi-natural ong>grasslandsong> are an important but threatened habitat throughout Europe(Van Dijk, 1981). Protection ong>ofong> flower-ong>richong> hay meadows at a European level followsthe Habitats Directive which identifies ong>richong> traditional hay meadows as a priority habitat forconservation. Although the maintenance management ong>ofong> ong>speciesong>-ong>richong> ong>grasslandsong> has beenincreasing through EU subsidies since 2004, the trends in landscape restoration by improvingthe biodiversity ong>ofong> degraded ong>grasslandsong> and agricultural land are still negative in Slovakia.One ong>ofong> the reasons for low interest in management ong>ofong> rural and cultural landscape is lack ong>ofong>knowledge and field experience ong>ofong> restoration and establishment ong>ofong> ong>speciesong>-ong>richong> ong>grasslandsong>.Considering that semi-natural grassland is the only existing source to provide ecologicalrestoration ong>ofong> grassland with appropriate seed or plant material (Kirmer and Tischew, 2006;Krautzer and Pötsch, 2009), trials for demonstrating the application ong>ofong> plant material fromong>speciesong>-ong>richong> grassland sites were established in central Slovakia. This paper presents the resultsfrom restoration ong>ofong> arable land to grassland by cutting ong>speciesong>-ong>richong> donor meadows andtransferring seed- and plant material seeds as dry and green hay to the receptor site.Materials and methodsThe demonstration trial was established in central Slovakia, near Banská Bystrica, at Tajov site(altitude 647 m a.s.l.; the ‚Starohorské vrchy‘ mountain range; 48°44‘N, 19°02‘E; geologicalsubstratum: carbonate rock and dolomitic limestone). The donor sites were Arrhenatherionand Mesobromion communities and the receptor site was arable land destined for conversionto grassland. The previous crop was silage maize. The distance between the donor and thereceptor site was about 2 km. Over 2009 and 2010, the restoration success ong>ofong> the receptor sitewas studied through vegetation analysis.Two methods ong>ofong> establishing grassland were studied: 1)fresh herbage applied as ‚green hay‘ (GH); and 2) herbage applied as ‚dry hay‘ (DH). The donorGrassland Farming and Land Management Systems in Mountainous Regions601


sites were cut in early July 2009. At Treatment 1, green hay from the donor site was applied asa 30-35 cm layer to the receptor site (arable land) immediately after cutting. At Treatment 2,cut herbage was dried at the donor site and then applied as dry hay on the receptor site. Twoweeks later the green hay, and one month later the dry hay, were removed from the receptorsite, as the thick layer (30-35 cm) would have prevented seed emergence. The receptor sitehad been converted to grassland in 2009, but the new sward was mostly composed ong>ofong> weedsand therefore one cut was taken to control weeds. In the following year, the sward was wellestablished,with a low proportion ong>ofong> bare ground. Before establishing the receptor site, soilsamples were taken from the donor and receptor sites (0-100 mm) to determine the contentong>ofong> C ox(Tjurin), Nt (Kjeldahl), P, K, Ca, Mg (Mehlich III) and pH (nKCl). Phytocoenologicalrecords (relevés) were done at the donor site in 2009, and at the receptor site before cuttingin 2010 (by agricultural method - sum ong>ofong> all ong>speciesong> cannot exceed 100%).Results and discussionSoil analyses showed high content ong>ofong> total N and humus, low P content and acid soil reactionat donor sites. The soil ong>ofong> the receptor site was neutral with medium humus supply, mediumN and P content, appropriate K content and a very high Mg content (Table 1). To establishong>speciesong>-ong>richong> grassland on former arable land with high nutrient content, the sowing ong>ofong> grassdominatedseed mixtures could be a more successful way (Lawson et al., 2004).Table 1. Soil properties (0-100 mm)Donor sitesArrhenatherion Mesobromion Receptor sitepH (nKCl) 5.82 4.75 7.16Total nitrogen (%) 5.20 3.99 2.03Phosphorus (mg kg -1 ) 4.52 29.61 72.23Potassium (mg kg -1 ) 154.73 122.69 114.18Magnesium (mg kg -1 ) 1224.80 153.40 690.30Humus (g kg -1 ) 125.42 90.80 26.59The dominant target ong>speciesong> ong>ofong> the Arrhenatherion community (26) were Arrhenatherumelatius L., Avenula pubescens Huds., Briza media L., Dactylis glomerata L., Dianthuscarthusianorum L., Festuca pratensis Huds., Festuca rubra L., Knautia kitaibelii Schult.,Leucanthemum vulgare LAM., Lotus corniculatus L., Poa pratensis L., Rhinanthus minor L.,Salvia pratensis L., Silene vulgaris Moench., Trifolium pratense L., Trifolium repens L. andTrisetum flavescens L.. The dominant target ong>speciesong> ong>ofong> Mesobromion community (26) wereBromus erectus Huds., Festuca rupicola Heuff., Dianthus carthusianorum L., Knautia kitaibeliiSchult., Leucanthemum vulgare Lam., Lotus corniculatus L., Medicago falcata L., Pimpinellasaxifraga L., Poa pratensis L., Primula veris L., Salvia pratensis L., Salvia verticillata L.,Tragopogon orientalis L., Trisetum flavescens L. etc. There were 41 ong>speciesong> recorded at theArrhenatherion donor site and 43 ong>speciesong> at the Mesobromion one (mean ong>ofong> three replicates).The ground cover ong>ofong> grasses was higher at the Mesobromion community (Table 2). Therewere no differences visible between the applications ong>ofong> dry versus green hay at the receptorsite (Table 3). 22 ong>ofong> the total ong>ofong> 26 target ong>speciesong> were recorded in the renovated sward inboth communities. Grassland establishment was more successful at the Mesobromion targetcommunity because the renovated sward resembled the original one. At the Arrhenatherionreceptor community, grasses dominated the sward (58.5%) before the 1 st cut, whereas before602Grassland Science in Europe, Vol. 16

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