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Ann Bot. 2009 Apr;103(6):913-21. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcp008. Epub 2009 Jan 24.

Biodiversity effects on yield and unsown species invasion in a temperate forage ecosystem.

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  • 1Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Crop Production Ecology, Box 7043, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden. bodil.frankow-lindberg@vpe.slu.se

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND AIMS:

Current agricultural practices are based on growing monocultures or binary mixtures over large areas, with a resultant impoverishing effect on biodiversity at several trophic levels. The effects of increasing the biodiversity of a sward mixture on dry matter yield and unsown species invasion were studied.

METHODS:

A field experiment involving four grassland species [two grasses--perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) and cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata)--and two legumes--red clover (Trifolium pratense) and white clover (Trifolium repens)], grown in monocultures and mixtures in accordance with a simplex design, was carried out. The legumes were included either as single varieties or as one of two broad genetic-base composites. The experiment was harvested three times a year over three years; dry matter yield and yield of unsown species were determined at each harvest. Yields of individual species and interactions between all species present were estimated through a statistical modelling approach.

KEY RESULTS:

Species diversity produced a strong positive yield effect that resulted in transgressive over-yielding in the second and third years. Using broad genetic-base composites of the legumes had a small impact on yield and species interactions. Invasion by unsown species was strongly reduced by species diversity, but species identity was also important. Cocksfoot and white clover (with the exception of one broad genetic-base composite) reduced invasion, while red clover was the most invaded species.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results show that it is possible to increase, and stabilize, the yield of a grassland crop and reduce invasion by unsown species by increasing its species diversity.

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