Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon Research Station ART, Reckenholzstrasse 191, CH-8046 Zürich

Maintenance of meadows by selfreseesiding of grass species

Four intensively managed permanent meadows were cut during several years either at seed maturity of the forage grass species or at heading stage. This last cutting regime prevented the self-reseeding of the forage grass species and brought about a deterioration of the botanical composition of the cocksfoot meadow and the foxtail meadow. The populations of cocksfoot (bunch grass) and of meadow foxtail were maintained or favoured by the cutting regimes allowing their self-reseeding. On the other hand, perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass (turf grasses) were disadvantaged by the late cuts although they could produce seeds. With the aim of allowing the grasses to produce seeds with a minimum loss of average forage quality, the meadows were cut at different early stages before the self-reseeding regrowth. An early fist utilisation at shooting stage allowed enough seeds to be produced during the second regrowth and improved the average forage quality compared to the other cutting regimes with self-reseeding. We conclude that allowing self-reseeding every two to four years helps maintain meadows of good botanical composition having an important proportion of bunch grasses, but is not advisable for intensive grassland containing large proportions of good turf grasses. An early first utilisation at shooting stage followed by a second cut at seed maturity with ground drying of the forage allows self-reseeding with a minimum loss in forage quality in the year of self-reseeding.

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