The effect of mowing regime on an amenity grassland ecosystem: above and below-ground components.
The effects of mowing frequency and cessation of mowing on ecosystem structure in a semi-permanent grassland (Agrostis tenuis, Holcus lanatus, Anthoxanthum odoratum dominant) were examined with particular application to amenity grasslands. Belowground plant components were studied in detail as roots, rhizomes and a detached root fraction. High levels of primary production following cessation of mowing resulted in large surface accumulations of litter which limited grasses but favoured proliferation of forbs. Intensive mowing led to increased investment in below-ground components in the 2nd yr following the commencement of mowing. The results suggested that previous studies have often relied on unsatisfactory techniques of sampling and separation of below-ground components. Besides the more obvious significance of roots, substantial amounts of rhizomes play an important role in regeneration following mowing. A detached root fraction representing 16-41% of below-ground dry wt. was separated by flotation after all visible plant material had been removed.