Theme 4: Wildlife--Oral Sessions

Description

Increased grassland productivity in temperate regions has largely been achieved through perennial ryegrass Lolium perenne (PRG), coupled with large quantities of nitrogen fertiliser. However, concern is growing regarding the negative implications of excessive dependence on nitrogen fertilisers. Research has demonstrated the benefits of legume inclusion on primary productivity, however, their potential to influence other processes is less well established.

Sampling was undertaken in autumn 2017 on twenty randomised plots representing five sward types, replicated four times. These had been established and managed by cutting since 2013. Sward types included: 1) PRG (250kg N ha-1 yr-1 ); 2) PRG; 3) PRG and white clover Trifolium repens; 4) 6 species mix comprised of PRG, timothy Phleum pratense, cocksfoot Dactylis glomerata, white clover, red clover Trifolium pratensis and greater birdsfoot trefoil Lotus pedunculatus; 5) species included in mix 4 with the addition of ribwort plantain Plantago lanceolate, chicory Cichorium intybus and yarrow Achillea millefolium. Mixes 2-5 inclusive received 90kg N ha-1 yr-1 . Measurements included: soil bulk density, water infiltration rates, and estimated earthworm activity via surface cast counts.

Soil bulk density did not differ in response to sward type. However, highest infiltration rates were recorded within the PRG and white clover swards, with an average of 29.7 (±3.5) mm hr-1 , while lowest rates were recorded from the two PRG monocultures (2.43 (±0.5) and 4.2 (±1.2) mm hr⁻¹ for the 90 and 250 kg N ha-1 yr-1 swards respectively). Surface cast numbers differed significantly between sward types (P< 0.001). Numbers ranged from 127 (±7) casts m⁻² for PRG & white clover, to 48 (±5) casts m⁻² for the PRG monocultures.

Our findings indicate the importance of legume inclusion within agricultural grasslands managed under reduced nitrogen fertiliser inputs for wider ecosystem service provision.

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The Importance of Forage Legume Inclusion in Agricultural Swards to Enhance Earthworm Activity and Water Infiltration Rates

Increased grassland productivity in temperate regions has largely been achieved through perennial ryegrass Lolium perenne (PRG), coupled with large quantities of nitrogen fertiliser. However, concern is growing regarding the negative implications of excessive dependence on nitrogen fertilisers. Research has demonstrated the benefits of legume inclusion on primary productivity, however, their potential to influence other processes is less well established.

Sampling was undertaken in autumn 2017 on twenty randomised plots representing five sward types, replicated four times. These had been established and managed by cutting since 2013. Sward types included: 1) PRG (250kg N ha-1 yr-1 ); 2) PRG; 3) PRG and white clover Trifolium repens; 4) 6 species mix comprised of PRG, timothy Phleum pratense, cocksfoot Dactylis glomerata, white clover, red clover Trifolium pratensis and greater birdsfoot trefoil Lotus pedunculatus; 5) species included in mix 4 with the addition of ribwort plantain Plantago lanceolate, chicory Cichorium intybus and yarrow Achillea millefolium. Mixes 2-5 inclusive received 90kg N ha-1 yr-1 . Measurements included: soil bulk density, water infiltration rates, and estimated earthworm activity via surface cast counts.

Soil bulk density did not differ in response to sward type. However, highest infiltration rates were recorded within the PRG and white clover swards, with an average of 29.7 (±3.5) mm hr-1 , while lowest rates were recorded from the two PRG monocultures (2.43 (±0.5) and 4.2 (±1.2) mm hr⁻¹ for the 90 and 250 kg N ha-1 yr-1 swards respectively). Surface cast numbers differed significantly between sward types (P< 0.001). Numbers ranged from 127 (±7) casts m⁻² for PRG & white clover, to 48 (±5) casts m⁻² for the PRG monocultures.

Our findings indicate the importance of legume inclusion within agricultural grasslands managed under reduced nitrogen fertiliser inputs for wider ecosystem service provision.