Plant diversity effects on forage quality, yield and revenues of semi-natural grasslands.


ETH Zürich, Agricultural Economics and Policy Group, Zurich, Switzerland. [Email]


In agricultural settings, plant diversity is often associated with low biomass yield and forage quality, while biodiversity experiments typically find the opposite. We address this controversy by assessing, over 1 year, plant diversity effects on biomass yield, forage quality (i.e. nutritive values), quality-adjusted yield (biomass yield × forage quality), and revenues across different management intensities (extensive to intensive) on subplots of a large-scale grassland biodiversity experiment. Plant diversity substantially increased quality-adjusted yield and revenues. These findings hold for a wide range of management intensities, i.e., fertilization levels and cutting frequencies, in semi-natural grasslands. Plant diversity was an important production factor independent of management intensity, as it enhanced quality-adjusted yield and revenues similarly to increasing fertilization and cutting frequency. Consequently, maintaining and reestablishing plant diversity could be a way to sustainably manage temperate grasslands.

OUR Recent Articles