Research Station Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon ART, CH-8046 Zurich

The seasonal aspect of the assessment of pasture quality

In the context of the revision of the Ordinance of Ecological Quality of Ecological Compensation Areas in the Used Agricultural Area 2008 extensive pastures will get extra payment if they’re ecologically valuable. The possible keys to assess the quality are all based at least partially on floristic indicator taxa. As the assessment should be objective, a pasture has to be assessed equally irrespective of the basic conditions. Therefore the robustness of the keys was tested in regard to the date of assessment, the altitude, the grazing and the density of vegetation. For that purpose vegetation surveys were done at three times from Mai 10th to August 15th on totally 31 sites in two different altitudinal levels. The ecological quality of the sites was then identified with the indicator taxa. With 4 % to 16 % wrongly assessed qualities, all tested keys were quite robust. Above 1000 m a.s.l. however with most keys fewer indicator taxa were found before June than on the two later dates. On contrary, below 800 m a.s.l. more indicator taxa were found between the middle of Mai and the beginning of June than on the two later dates. As long as this finding is taken into account, all keys can be recommended for the ongoing elaboration.

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