Swiss College of Agriculture, Zollikofen

Species loss has negative consequences in fodder production

In this study, the link between species loss, the functioning of a grassland ecosystem and the production of fodder is investigated. The study area is located on the slope of Monte Generoso in Ticino and consists of two adjacent meadows at Pree and Poma. In 1950 two smallholder dairy farms were still based on these meadows, one farm on each meadow. Whereas mowing has been carried out regularly in Pree until today, the meadows of Poma changed after a period of interrupted mowing (1968-1987) into a mosaic of birch woodland, hazel shrubs and fallow grassland dominated by tor grass (Brachypodium pinnatum). Many specialist species of meadows, including the most valuable fodder plants, were lost. Since 1988 an area without woody plants of c. 200 m2 has been regularly mowed and species composition and phytomass monitored. The initially unbroken dominance of tor grass decreased over 20 years while the displaced species hardly reestablished themselves. The standing crop was reduced by 45 % during the same period and is now below the level of the standing crop in the species-rich, unfertilized dry meadow at Pree. Thus, species richness ensures the production of fodder that can be gained from unimproved grassland.

To the archive