Advertisement

Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 23, Issue 12, pp 3073–3089 | Cite as

Mowing for biodiversity: grass trimmer and knife mower perform equally well

  • Malin Tälle
  • Karl-Olof Bergman
  • Heidi Paltto
  • Aina Pihlgren
  • Roger Svensson
  • Lars Westerberg
  • Jörgen Wissman
  • Per MilbergEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

Mowing of semi-natural grasslands is an important management method to maintain the conservation value and species-richness of this habitat. Mowing using cutting instruments, e.g. sickle bar mowers, is thought to be superior by practitioners compared with other mechanical instruments that tears off the plant material, e.g. grass trimmers. However, almost no studies exist that supports this assumption. We analysed a 12-year field trial in a semi-natural grassland in south-eastern Sweden, with the aim of determining which mowing technique best maintains the conservation value of semi-natural grasslands. Two mowing techniques were compared: mowing using a hand-pushed sickle bar mower (a type of knife mower), or mowing using a grass trimmer at a 5-cm or 0-cm cutting height. The odds that a recorded species belongs to a group of indicator species were calculated for sample plots, and odds ratios were calculated contrasting treatments. Three types of indicator species classification systems were used: (i) indicators of management for species richness, (ii) indicators of excess nitrogen and (iii) indicators of lack of management. The odds ratios were calculated for years 1–5, 7 and 12 of the trial. In addition, Principal Response Curve analysis was performed to analyse the change in vegetation composition over time and ANOVA for plant species richness in plots. The results showed that over time there were no differences in the odds of finding indicators of any of the three types, for any of the mowing techniques. Furthermore, there were no apparent change in vegetation composition and only a small effect on richness. These results suggest that mowing using a sickle bar mower or a grass trimmer had the same effect on the floristic composition of grasslands, and both techniques can be recommended for use in semi-natural grasslands.

Keywords

Indicators Management Meta-analysis Mowing techniques Odds ratio Semi-natural grassland Sweden 

Abbreviations

ln OR

Logarithm of odds ratio

PRC

Principal Response Curve

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Kenneth Strand for faithfully conducting the mowing, and we thank those who helped in the vegetation surveys. This study was financially supported by the County Administration Board in Östergötland, the former Department of Conservation Biology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the Swedish Board of Agriculture, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and Stiftelsen Oscar och Lili Lamms minne.

References

  1. Bernes C (2011) Biodiversity in sweden. Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, StockholmGoogle Scholar
  2. Bertilsson A, Paltto H (2003) Hagar i Skaraborg år 2001: en återinventering med miljöövervakningssyfte. County Administration Board of Västra Götaland. 2003:15. (In Swedish) http://www.lansstyrelsen.se/vastragotaland/SiteCollectionDocuments/Sv/publikationer/2003/rapport200315.pdf. Accessed 25 July 2012
  3. Carlsson G, Svensson S-E, Emanuelsson U (2014) Alternative methods for management of meadows and pastures and use of the harvested biomass. SLU. Fakulteten för landskapsarkitektur, trädgårds- och växtproduktionsvetenskap, Alnarp, Rapport 2014:11. (In Swedish) http://pub.epsilon.slu.se/11094/7/carlsson_g_etal_140331.pdf. Accessed 10 July 2014
  4. Cizek O, Zamecnik J, Tropek R, Kocarek P, Konvicka M (2012) Diversification of mowing regime increases arthropods diversity in species-poor cultural hay meadows. J Insect Conserv 16:215–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dengler J, Janisová M, Török P, Wellstein C (2014) Biodiversity of Palaearctic grasslands: a synthesis. Agric Ecosystems Environ 182:1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Einarsson A, Milberg P (1999) Species richness and distribution in relation to light in wooded meadows and pastures in southern Sweden. Ann Bot Fenn 36:99–107Google Scholar
  7. Ekstam U, Forshed N (1992) Om hävden upphör; kärlväxter som indikatorarter i ängs- och hagmark. (If grassland management ceases; Vascular plants as indicators species in meadows and pastures.). Naturvårdsverket Förlag, Solna (In Swedish with English summary)Google Scholar
  8. Ekstam U, Aronsson M, Forshed N (1988) Ängar (Meadows). LTs förlag, Stockholm (In Swedish)Google Scholar
  9. Eriksson O, Cousins S, Bruun HH (2002) Land-use history and fragmentation of traditionally managed grasslands in Scandinavia. J Veg Sci 13:743–748CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (2003) Skötselkort för vårdbiotoper 2 – Slåtter. (In Swedish) http://www.mmm.fi/attachments/mmm/julkaisut/oppaat/perinnebiotoopit_ruotsi/5jQJETDYL/2_slatter.pdf. Accessed 19 March 2013
  11. Gärdenfors U (ed) (2010) Rödlistade arter i Sverige 2010 – The 2010 redlist of Swedish species. ArtDatabanken, SLU, UppsalaGoogle Scholar
  12. Gardiner T, Hassall M (2009) Does microclimate affect grasshopper populations after cutting of hay in improved grassland? J Insect Conserv 13:97–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hall Diemer M, Niemi Hjulfors L, Lagerkvist Tolke C, Durling M (2013) Kan nya metoder stärka skötseln av våra ängs- och betesmarker? Jordbruksverket Rapport 2013, 22, (In Swedish with English summary)Google Scholar
  14. Hansson M (1991) Management of semi-natural grassland. Result of a fifteen-year-old field experiment in south and central Sweden. Department of Ecology and Environmental Research, Swedish University of Agricultural sciences, Uppsala. Report No. 45. (In Swedish with English summary)Google Scholar
  15. Hansson M, Fogelfors H (2000) Management of a semi-natural grassland; results from a 15-year-old experiment in southern Sweden. J Veg Sci 11:31–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hellström K, Huhta A-P, Rautio P, Tuomi J (2006) Search for optimal mowing regime – slow community change in restoration trial in northern Finland. Ann Bot Fenn 43:338–348Google Scholar
  17. Huhta A-P, Rautio P, Tuomi J, Laine K (2001) Restorative mowing on an abandoned semi-natural meadow: short-term and predicted long-term effects. J Veg Sci 12:677–686CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Humbert J-Y, Ghazoul J, Walter T (2009) Meadow harvesting techniques and their impacts on field fauna. Agric Ecosystems Environ 130:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Humbert J-Y, Ghazoul J, Sauter GJ, Walter T (2010) Impact of different meadow mowing techniques on field invertebrates. J Appl Entomol 134:592–599Google Scholar
  20. Ihse M (1995) Swedish agricultural landscape – patterns and changes during the last 50 years, studied by aerial photos. Landsc Urb Plan 3:21–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jansson N, Bergman K-O, Jonsell M, Milberg P (2009) An indicator system for identification of sites of high conservation value for saproxylic oak (Quercus spp.) beetles in southern Sweden. J Insect Conserv 13:399–412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Johansson O, Hedin P (1991) Restaurering av ängs- och hagmarker. Naturvårdsverket, Stockholm (In Swedish)Google Scholar
  23. Johansson LJ, Hall K, Prentice HC, Ihse M, Reitalu T, Sykes MT, Kindström M (2008) Seminatural grassland continuity, long-term land-use change and plant species richness in an agricultural landscape on Öland, Sweden. Landsc Urb Plan 84:200–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Johst K, Drechsler M, Thomas J, Settele J (2006) Influence of mowing on the persistence of two endangered large blue butterfly species. J Appl Ecol 43:333–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kahmen S, Poschlod P, Schreiber K-F (2002) Conservation management of calcareous grasslands. Changes in plant species composition and response of functional traits during 25 years. Biol Conserv 104:319–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Karlsson T (1998) The vascular plants of Sweden – a checklist. Sven Bot Tidskr 91:241–560 (In Swedish with English summary)Google Scholar
  27. Kelemen A, Török P, Valkó O, Deák B, Miglécz T, Tóth K, Ölvedi T, Tóthmérész B (2014) Sustaining recovered grasslands is not likely without proper management: vegetation changes after cessation of mowing. Biodiversity Conserv 23:741–751CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Köhler B, Gigon A, Edwards PJ, Krüsi B, Langenauer R, Lüscher A, Ryser P (2005) Changes in the species composition and conservation value of limestone grasslands in Northern Switzerland after 22 years of contrasting managements. Perspectives Plant Ecol Evol Syst 7:51–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kull K, Zobel M (1991) High species richness in an Estonian wooded meadow. J Veg Sci 2:711–714CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Larsson BMP, Ekstam U (1987) Inventering av ängs- och hagmarker: indikatorarter för hävdad och ogödslad mark. Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Stockholm (In Swedish)Google Scholar
  31. Liira J, Issak M, Jőgar Ü, Mändoja M, Zobel M (2009) Restoration management of a floodplain meadow and its cost-effectiveness: the results of a 6-year experiment. Ann Bot Fenn 46:397–408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Littlewood NA, Stewart AJA, Woodcock BA (2012) Science into practice: how can fundamental science contribute to better management of grasslands for invertebrates? Insect Conserv Diversity 5:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Loydi A, Eckstein RL, Otte A, Donath TW (2013) Effects of litter seedling establishment in natural and semi-natural grasslands: a meta-analysis. J Ecol 101:454–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Marrs RH, Snow CSR, Evans CE (1998) Heathland and acid grassland creation on arable soils at Minsmere: identification of potential problems and a test of cropping to impoverish soils. Biol Conserv 85:69–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Milberg P (2014) Evidence-based vegetation management: prospects and challenges. Appl Veg Sci 17:604–608CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Milberg P, Akoto B, Bergman K-O, Fogelfors H, Paltto H, Tälle M (2014) Is spring burning a viable management tool for species-rich grasslands? Appl Veg Sci 17:429–441CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Naturvårdsverket (2011) Natura 2000: Gräsmarker. Vägledningar för gräsmarker, beslutade november 2011. Swedish Environmental Protection Agency www.naturvardsverket.se/Stod-i-miljoarbetet/Vagledning-amnesvis/Natura-2000/Natura-2000-Grasmarker/. Accessed 8 March 2013
  38. Nordberg A (2013) Utvärdering av ängs- och betesmarks- inventeringen och databasen TUVA. Hur används TUVA och hur stort är behovet av ominventering? [Evaluation on the National survey of semi-natural pastures and meadows and the database TUVA. How TUVA is utilized and how big the need of a resurvey is?] Jordbruksverket Rapport 2013, 32 (In Swedish with English sumary)Google Scholar
  39. Parr TW, Way JM (1988) Management of roadside vegetation: the long-term effects of cutting. J Appl Ecol 25:1073–1087CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Poschlod P, Bakker JP, Kahmen S (2005) Changing land use and its impact on biodiversity. Basic Appl Ecol 6:93–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ruprecht E, Enyedi MZ, Eckstein RL, Donath TW (2010) Restorative removal of plant litter and vegetation 40 years after abandonment enhances re-emergence of steppe grassland vegetation. Biol Conserv 143:449–456CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sandberg H, Thylén A (1999) Maskiner och redskap i naturliga fodermarker. Biologisk mångfald och variation i odlingslandskapet. Jordbruksverket, Jönköping (in Swedish)Google Scholar
  43. Schreiber K-F, Brauckmann H-J, Broll G, Krebs S, Poschlod P (2009) Artenreiches Grünland in der Kulturlandschaft. 35 Jahre Offenhaltungsversuche Baden-Württemberg. Verlag Regionalkultur, Heidelberg (In German)Google Scholar
  44. Skogsvårdstyrelsen i Östergötlands län (1989) Skötselplan för Sättra ängar naturreservat. (In Swedish) www.lansstyrelsen.se/ostergotland/SiteCollectionDocuments/sv/djur-och-natur/skyddad-natur/naturreservat/odeshog/sattra-angar/sattraskpl.pdf. Accessed 7 Aug 2012
  45. Stampfli A, Zeiter M (1999) Plant species decline due to abandonment of meadows cannot easily be reversed by mowing. A case study from the Southern Alps. J Veg Sci 10:151–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Svensson R, Philgren A, Wissman J (2009) Gräsröjaren: bättre än sitt rykte! [The grass trimmer: better than its reputation]. Sven Bot Tidskr 103:187–195 (In Swedish with English abstract)Google Scholar
  47. ter Braak CJF, Šmilauer P (2012) Canoco reference manual and user’s guide: software ordination, version 5.0. Microcomputer Power, Ithaca, USA, p 496Google Scholar
  48. Valkó O, Török P, Tóthmérész B, Matus G (2011) Restoration potential in seed banks of acidic fen and dry-mesophilous meadows: can restoration be based on local seed banks? Restoration Ecol 19:9–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Valkó O, Török P, Matus G, Tóthmérész B (2012) Is regular mowing the most appropriate and cost-effective management maintaining diversity and biomass of target forbs in mountain hay meadows? Flora 207:303–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. van den Brink PJ, ter Braak CJF (1999) Principal response curves: analysis of time-dependent multivariate responses of biological community to stress. Environ Toxicol Chem 18:138–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. van Klink R, van der Plas F, van Noordwijk CGE, WallisDeVries MF, Olff H (2014) Effects of large herbivores on grassland arthropod diversity. Biol Rev (in press)Google Scholar
  52. Wadi A, Ishii Y, Idota S (2004) Effects of cutting interval and cutting height on dry matter yield and overwintering ability at the established year in Pennisetum species. Plant Productivity Sci 7:88–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wahlman H, Milberg P (2002) Management of semi-natural grassland vegetation: evaluation of a long-term experiment in southern Sweden. Ann Bot Fenn 39:159–166Google Scholar
  54. Wijiphat S, Lorwilai P, Arkaseang C (2009) Effect of cutting heights on productivity and quality of King Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum cv. King Grass) under irrigation. Pakistan J Nutrition 8:1244–1250CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malin Tälle
    • 1
  • Karl-Olof Bergman
    • 1
  • Heidi Paltto
    • 1
  • Aina Pihlgren
    • 2
  • Roger Svensson
    • 2
  • Lars Westerberg
    • 1
  • Jörgen Wissman
    • 2
  • Per Milberg
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.IFM Biology, Conservation Ecology Group Linköping UniversityLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  2. 2.Swedish Biodiversity CentreSwedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Uppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

Personalised recommendations