Special Issue "Sustainable Management and Utilization of Permanent Grassland"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Grassland and Pasture Science".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2021) | Viewed by 16024

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Ladislav Menšík
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Department of Sustainable Management and Utilization of Permanent Grassland, Division of Crop Management Systems, Crop Research Institute, Drnovská 507/73, 161 06 Prague 6 –Ruzyně, Czech Republic
Interests: agroecosystems; mineral and organic fertilization; soil; soil organic matter; humus substances; biogeochemistry; nutrient availability; sustainability; climate change
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Permanent grasslands (PG) represent a very important culture in today’s multifunctional agriculture, providing an important source of high-quality feedstuff (high nutrient content and digestibility) for livestock and substrate for biogas plants (a substitute for maize). PG also maintain the soil in a permanent production state (the management of C, N, and other nutrients), co-create the surrounding landscape, increase biodiversity, and have other irreplaceable, non-productive functions. The current limiting and fundamental factor affecting the productive role and ecosystem services of PG are recently changing environmental conditions (global climate change), characterized by iterative periods of drought during the stages of intensive growth, high air temperatures during the summer, but also uneven precipitation distribution during the entire growing season. Furthermore, other factors are related to climate change, such as the fertilization (utilization of nutrients during the dry periods), dates of the harvest (harvest of the quality forage), or changes in botanical composition and soil properties (the cycle of carbon and other nutrients). Your contributions to the Special Issue should focus on the latest knowledge about the influence of currently rapidly changing environmental conditions on productive, qualitative, and vegetation changes of PG in relation to the intensity of utilization, level of fertilization, and soil properties, using the long-term grassland experiments. These results will evaluate management measures on grasslands in terms of current changes and support the sustainable rational use of permanent grasslands in the future (sustainable intensification).

Dr. Ladislav Menšík
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • Permanent grassland
  • Permanent grassland management
  • Sustainable intensification
  • Fertilization (mineral and organic fertilizers, organic manures)
  • Biomass yield
  • Botanical composition
  • Forage quality
  • Soil quality
  • Grazing
  • Food security
  • Climate change
  • Ecosystem services

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Article
Can Soil pH Correction Reduce the Animal Supplementation Needs in the Critical Autumn Period in Mediterranean Montado Ecosystem?
Agronomy 2021, 11(3), 514; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11030514 - 10 Mar 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 907
Abstract
Extensive livestock production in Mediterranean climate conditions and acidic soils requires animal feed supplementation. This occurs during the summer and, frequently, also in the autumn and winter, depending on the prevailing rainfall patterns. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect [...] Read more.
Extensive livestock production in Mediterranean climate conditions and acidic soils requires animal feed supplementation. This occurs during the summer and, frequently, also in the autumn and winter, depending on the prevailing rainfall patterns. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of dolomitic limestone application and of tree canopy on availability, quality, and floristic composition of a permanent pasture, grazed by sheep. At the end of autumn, winter, and spring of 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 pasture green and dry matter production (GM and DM, respectively), crude protein (CP), and fiber (neutral detergent fiber) were monitored in 24 sampling points. Half of these points were located in areas amended with dolomitic limestone (COR) and half in unamended areas (UCOR). In each of these, half of the sampling points were located under tree canopy (UTC) and half outside tree canopy (OTC). Pasture floristic composition was monitored in spring 2020. The results show, in autumn, a positive and significant effect (i) of soil pH amendment on pasture DM and CP daily growth rate (kg·ha−1·day−1) (+28.8% and +42.6%, respectively), and (ii) of tree canopy on pasture CP daily growth rate (+26.4%). Both factors affect pasture floristic composition. Pasture species were identified as potential bio-indicators, characteristic of each field area. These results show the practical interest of the soil pH correction to reduce the animal supplementation needs in the critical autumn period in the Mediterranean montado ecosystem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Management and Utilization of Permanent Grassland)
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Article
Effects of Cultivar, Nitrogen Rate and Harvest Time on the Content of Carbohydrates and Protein in the Biomass of Perennial Ryegrass
Agronomy 2021, 11(3), 468; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11030468 - 04 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1244
Abstract
The aim of this study was to determine the effects of cultivar, nitrogen (N) rate and harvest time on the content of water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC), crude protein (CP) and the WSC:CP ratio in the aboveground biomass of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.). [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to determine the effects of cultivar, nitrogen (N) rate and harvest time on the content of water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC), crude protein (CP) and the WSC:CP ratio in the aboveground biomass of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.). A small-area field experiment was conducted in the Agricultural Experiment Station in Tomaszkowo (53°42′40.8″ N 20°26′04.7″ E, north-eastern Poland). Data were presented for three years of full utilization (2013–2015). The experimental factors were as follows: (i) perennial ryegrass cultivar: Bajka and Baronka, (ii) N rate (kg ha−1): 0, 120, and 240, and (iii) harvest time: 8.00–10.00 a.m., 12.00–2.00 p.m., and 4.00–6.00 p.m. The tetraploid cultivar Baronka had higher WSC content and lower CP content on a dry matter (DM) basis than the diploid cultivar Bajka (by approx. 3% on average). An increase in N fertilizer rate to 240 kg ha−1 contributed to a decrease in WSC concentrations by 23% in cv. Bajka and by 19% in cv. Baronka, and to an increase in the CP content of aboveground biomass by 32% and 23%, respectively. Both cultivars accumulated significantly higher WSC amounts when biomass was harvested at noon and in the afternoon than in the morning. The CP content of biomass was also affected by harvest time, and it was higher in cv. Bajka when harvesting was carried out at 12.00–2.00 p.m. and 4.00–6.00 p.m., and in cv. Baronka when harvesting was carried out at 4.00–6.00 p.m. The WSC:CP ratio in the biomass of the analyzed cultivars was within the optimal range for ruminants, and it was higher in cv. Baronka (1:1.11). Nitrogen applied at 240 kg ha−1 had a negative influence on the WSC:CP ratio, decreasing its value by around 36% (relative to the rate of 120 kg N ha−1) and around 35% (relative to the unfertilized treatment). In both perennial ryegrass cultivars, biomass harvested in the morning was characterized by the lowest WSC:CP ratio. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Management and Utilization of Permanent Grassland)
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Article
Effect of Fertilization on the Energy Profit of Tall Wheatgrass and Reed Canary Grass
Agronomy 2021, 11(3), 445; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11030445 - 27 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2216
Abstract
Cultivation of energy crops is a part of modern agriculture. In particular, maize (Zea mays L.) is widely grown in central Europe. However, in terms of erosion risk and high demands on fertilization and protection against diseases and pests, its growing is [...] Read more.
Cultivation of energy crops is a part of modern agriculture. In particular, maize (Zea mays L.) is widely grown in central Europe. However, in terms of erosion risk and high demands on fertilization and protection against diseases and pests, its growing is not environmentally friendly. Therefore, possibilities of utilization of other more environmentally friendly energy crops have been examined at present. The aim of the study was to evaluate the effects of various fertilization (mineral, digestate, control) on the yields of tall wheatgrass (TWG) (Elymus elongatus subsp. ponticus) and reed canary grass (RCG) (Phalaris arundinacea L.) cultivated in a long-term field experiment on the experimental site in Czech Republic. The energy profit from cultivation of these crops and its protective anti-erosion effect were evaluated. The average yields ranged from 4.6 (RCG, mineral fertilization) to 7.4 t/ha (TWG, digestate fertilization). The more profitable species was tall wheatgrass, the biomass of which also had the higher heating value. The energy profit ranged from 80 GJ/ha (RCG, control variant and mineral fertilization) to 133 GJ/ha (TWG, digestate and mineral fertilization). It has been found that the tested plants excel in anti-erosion effect and could therefore be a suitable alternative to maize, especially in less-favored areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Management and Utilization of Permanent Grassland)
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Article
Evaluation of the Contribution of Pastures on the Economic Sustainability of Small Ruminant Farms in a Typical Greek Area
Agronomy 2021, 11(1), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11010063 - 30 Dec 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2212
Abstract
Small ruminant production is predominantly linked to the use of natural pastures; however the intensification process in past decades has led to a gradual abandonment of grazing and the prevalence of intensive patterns. This paper contributes to the discussion about the economic performance [...] Read more.
Small ruminant production is predominantly linked to the use of natural pastures; however the intensification process in past decades has led to a gradual abandonment of grazing and the prevalence of intensive patterns. This paper contributes to the discussion about the economic performance of small ruminant farms relative to the use of pastures. Using data from a sample of Greek sheep and goat farms it is shown that grazing does not necessarily increase economic performance. If not organized carefully, farms which graze more do not reduce their feeding costs or they counterbalance this reduction with increases labor expenses. An efficiency analysis of the sample using Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) shows that farms which graze less are generally more efficient than the ones which graze more. Furthermore, the input-oriented DEA model reveals that the same level of output could be achieved with less a reduction of hours grazing by 12.5% and 11.9%, respectively for farms which graze less than 1800 h and more than 1800 respectively. It is concluded that a higher level of organization is required to render grazing a practice with positive economic impact on farms, including infrastructure for better accessibility of pastures, more efficient rations and training. This applies also to the framework for pasture use in Greece, as the delivery of Integrated Grazing Management Plans is expected to provide guidance and stability to small ruminant farmers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Management and Utilization of Permanent Grassland)
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Article
Floristic Composition Mediates Change in Forage Nutritive Quality of Atlantic Mountain Grasslands after Experimental Grazing Exclusion
Agronomy 2021, 11(1), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11010025 - 24 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1545
Abstract
Simultaneous reduction of biodiversity and forage nutritive value after grazing abandonment represents a critical agroecological problem observed in temperate mountain grasslands. However, how both processes affect each other after the exclusion of large grazers is not well understood. To address this knowledge gap, [...] Read more.
Simultaneous reduction of biodiversity and forage nutritive value after grazing abandonment represents a critical agroecological problem observed in temperate mountain grasslands. However, how both processes affect each other after the exclusion of large grazers is not well understood. To address this knowledge gap, we used four Atlantic grassland sites in the Aralar masif (northern Iberian Peninsula) to ask whether floristic composition mediates change in forage nutritive quality after grazing exclusion, and, if so, how much of the effect on forage quality is mediated. To examine the effects of grazing exclusion on forage quality and floristic composition a repeated-measures (2005–10) randomized complete block experiment was used. Then, the direct effects of grazing exclusion on forage quality were disentangled from the indirect effects mediated by concurrent change in floristic composition. Grazing exclusion deteriorated forage mineral content, phosphorus content, neutral detergent fiber and, especially, crude protein and enzymatic digestibility. Concurrent floristic change mediated change in crude protein (80%), enzymatic digestibility (55%) and forage content in calcium (31%). Our study shows that plant diversity and forage quality are intimately linked features of Atlantic mountain grasslands and highlights the importance of preserving leguminous and dicotyledonous species to maintain the nutritive value of these grasslands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Management and Utilization of Permanent Grassland)
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Article
Spatial Variability of Soil Phosphorus Indices under Two Contrasting Grassland Fields in Eastern Canada
Agronomy 2021, 11(1), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11010024 - 24 Dec 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2082
Abstract
Phosphorus (P) is an essential nutrient for grassland production systems. However, continuous applications of P fertilizers result in soil P accumulations, increasing the risk of P losses in runoff and erosion. This study aims to investigate the field-scale variability of soil-test P (STP) [...] Read more.
Phosphorus (P) is an essential nutrient for grassland production systems. However, continuous applications of P fertilizers result in soil P accumulations, increasing the risk of P losses in runoff and erosion. This study aims to investigate the field-scale variability of soil-test P (STP) in two contrasting grassland fields using descriptive statistics and geostatistics for accurate recommendations on soil sampling strategy and sustainable approaches to P management. A young grassland (YG; 2 years) and an old grassland (OG; 10 years under permanent pasture) were classified as humo-ferric podzol and received organic fertilizers. Soil samples were collected in 16-m by 16-m triangular grids at two depths (0–5 and 5–20 cm). They were analyzed for available P and other soil elements extracted using the Mehlich-3 method (M3). The agri-environmental P saturation index (P/Al)M3 was calculated. Phosphorus accumulation was observed in OG (0–5 cm) as a result of long-term manure applications. Repeated applications of organic fertilizers can impact the long-term buildup of soil P, thus decreasing soil P va-riability and spatial dependence in permanent grasslands. A soil sampling strategy focusing on the 0–5 cm layer should be retained in permanent grasslands for sustainable P recommendations in Eastern Canada. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Management and Utilization of Permanent Grassland)
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Article
Defoliation Dynamics in Kikuyugrass Pastures Subjected to Intensities of Defoliation
Agronomy 2020, 10(12), 1939; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10121939 - 10 Dec 2020
Viewed by 1262
Abstract
Some recent papers have recommended moderate intensities of defoliation in order to maximize herbage intake at different time-scales. Most of them, however, did not assess the grazing dynamics of individual tillers during the stocking period. Therefore, the objective of this work was to [...] Read more.
Some recent papers have recommended moderate intensities of defoliation in order to maximize herbage intake at different time-scales. Most of them, however, did not assess the grazing dynamics of individual tillers during the stocking period. Therefore, the objective of this work was to describe the defoliation dynamics of kikuyugrass (Pennisetum clandestinum Hochst ex. Chiov) pastures subjected to different intensities of defoliation (40, 50, 60, and 70% of the initial height). Twelve 1500 m2 plots were strip-grazed over 24 h, and the frequency and severity of defoliation of individual tillers were assessed in 40 tagged tillers per experimental unit. From these data (n = 1920), we calculated the grazed area in the upper, second, and third horizon, and the total grazed area. We found that the frequency of defoliation by leaf category (expanding, mature, and senescent) increased linearly with the intensity of defoliation, and that reductions in extended tillers could not be used as a proxy to estimate the frequency of defoliation. Moreover, 22% of the second and third horizons were already exploited with intensities of defoliation of 40%, raising the possibility that the exploitation of lower grazing horizons could be more related to stocking density and relatively independent of the grazed area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Management and Utilization of Permanent Grassland)
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Article
Páramo Ecosystems in Ecuador’s Southern Region: Conservation State and Restoration
Agronomy 2020, 10(12), 1922; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10121922 - 07 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2178
Abstract
The páramo is home to a significant proportion of global biodiversity and provides essential services for the development of life for millions of people in Ecuador. However, land use/land cover (LULC) changes threaten biodiversity and modify its functioning. The objectives of this study [...] Read more.
The páramo is home to a significant proportion of global biodiversity and provides essential services for the development of life for millions of people in Ecuador. However, land use/land cover (LULC) changes threaten biodiversity and modify its functioning. The objectives of this study were: (1) to evaluate the conservation status of the herbaceous páramo (HP) ecosystem by analyzing its LULC in Ecuador’s southern region. (2) to identify possible regions where the native páramo ecosystem is being restored. We analyzed Landsat 8 images using Object-Based Image Analysis (OBIA) and a Classifier Decision Tree (CDT) to achieve these objectives. The results show that the native herbaceous páramo (NHP) ecosystem is being transformed into an anthropogenic HP (AHP). The area covered by the NHP ecosystem (296,964 ha) has been reduced by 50% (149,834 ha). Nevertheless, we identified five regions where the NHP is upgrading. These regions are relevant for studying NHP regeneration in Ecuador’s southern region, where soils are mostly andosols. The LU of the páramo, with cycles of exploitation, abandonment, and regeneration in a secondary páramo, is transforming the NHP ecosystem. These exploitation practices, global climate change, and lack of knowledge about the NHP ecosystem’s regeneration and its soils’ recovery threaten to substantially reduce the NHP area, its functionality, and its ecosystem services. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Management and Utilization of Permanent Grassland)
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Article
Long-Term Yield and Quality Performance of Perennial Energy Grasses (Agropyron spp.) on Marginal Land
Agronomy 2020, 10(7), 1051; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10071051 - 21 Jul 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1579
Abstract
The cultivation of perennial grasses is one of the most desirable alternatives as energy feedstock, but it is difficult to achieve competitive yields under Mediterranean marginal conditions. The aim of this study was to assess the performance of three cool-season grasses (Agropyron [...] Read more.
The cultivation of perennial grasses is one of the most desirable alternatives as energy feedstock, but it is difficult to achieve competitive yields under Mediterranean marginal conditions. The aim of this study was to assess the performance of three cool-season grasses (Agropyron spp.) from an agronomic and energetic point of view by comparing the dry matter (DM) yields, rain use efficiency, chemical composition, and biomass quality over an eight-year period in Spain under marginal rainfed conditions. The tall wheatgrass (Agropyron elongatum (Host) Beauv.) cultivars, Alkar (4.8 Mg DM·ha−1) and Jose (4.7 Mg DM·ha−1), achieved the highest yields. Productions below 0.5 Mg DM·ha−1 were obtained when rainfall was lower than 150 mm between March and June. The biomass obtained from the tested grasses showed relatively high contents of ash, silicon, and alkali elements. Net calorific values ranged between 16.7 and 18.5 MJ·kg−1 db. Differences in the composition among species and cultivars are not likely to affect their combustion behavior from a practical point of view. The ash content, as well as the concentrations of K, S, Na, and Cl, tended to decrease over the years. The results offered would be very useful for the implementation of this type of crop in marginal land. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Management and Utilization of Permanent Grassland)
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