Long-term dynamics of standing crop and species composition after the cessation of fertilizer application to mown grassland.

Published online
21 Mar 1992
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Olff, H. & Bakker, J. P.

Publication language


In field studies in the Drentse A nature reserve, Netherlands, standing crop and species composition of three different fields cut for hay were studied during the first 14 years after cessation of fertilizer application. In two fields on peaty soil a strong decrease in standing crop (from 800 to 300 g/m2) was observed, but in a field on sandy soil the initial production of 300 g/m2 did not decrease. The deviations from the mean between years were significantly correlated with the potential water surplus in the growing season for the field on sandy soil but not for the two fields on peaty soil. The species composition changed gradually in all fields. In general, species indicating nutrient-rich conditions such as Holcus lanatus, Lolium perenne, Agrostis stolonifera, Elymus repens and Dactylis glomerata were replaced by species indicating poorer conditions such as Agrostis capillaris, Rhinanthus angustifolius, Anthoxanthum odoratum and Plantago lanceolata. In the two fields with decreasing standing crop, species richness per field and per 4-m2 plot increased markedly during the 14 years. A maximum of 40 species was observed after 8 years in the field on sandy soil. Several species reached their maximum cover during these successions. The dynamics of species replacement was described using a Gaussian response model for each species. Species indicating nutrient-poor conditions entered earlier in the successional sequence with cutting twice a year and in the field on sandy soil. The results are discussed with regard to diversity-productivity relationships, nutrient cycling and adaptations of species to nutrient-poor conditions.

Key words