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Long-term effects of extensification of sheep grazing management on botanical diversity and sheep production in upland grassland

  • C. A. Marriott (a1), G. T. Barthram (a1), T. G. Common (a1), J. H. Griffiths (a1), J. M. Fisher (a1) and K. Hood (a1)...

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Sheep systems on upland permanent pastures sown with Lolium perenne/Trifolium repens, have typically been relatively intensively managed, relying on inorganic fertilizers to maintain or increase animal output. However changes in the Common Agricultural Policy have resulted in the development of agri-environment schemes to deliver environmental goals from grasslands. These schemes encourage more extensive grazing systems, and change the emphasis from animal output to issues such as increasing biodiversity. Lower stocking densities provide increased opportunities for diet selection, the development of a heterogeneous habitat and associated changes in species composition. However, will more extensive management increase botanical diversity in upland sown swards? The experiment reported here describes the effect of more extensive management combining cessation of fertilizer and lower grazing intensity on vegetation change, stocking density and lamb output over 14 years.

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Marriott, C. A., Bolton, G. R., Barthram, G. T., Fisher, J. M. and Hood, K. 2002. Early changes in species composition of upland sown grassland under extensive grazing management. Applied Vegetation Science. 42: 8798.

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