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The impact of organic fertilizers on semi-natural grasslands (old BD0334) - BD1415

Description
The main objective is to identify fertilizer management practices that will ensure long-term ecological stability (maintain species-richness and composition) of unimproved mesotrophic/neutral grasslands and the impact that such practices will have on agricultural output. A multisite randomized block experiment will measure the botanical composition and agronomic output responses of ‘paired’ unimproved and semi-improved hay meadow communities to a range of either annual or periodic inputs of farmyard manure (FYM) or equivalent amounts of nutrients as inorganic fertilizer. Comparison will also be made with a pelleted organic fertilizer and possible interactions between lime input and either regular or periodic FYM applications will be explored. Data on changes in botanical composition will be analyzed by computer modelling to predict both the rate and direction of shifts in relation to NVC communities and these analyses will be complemented by assessments of changes in soil microbial communities, particularly mycorrhizal fungi. Changes in the handling properties and nutrient composition of FYM in response to different composting conditions will be carried out. The project will provide a database that will underpin refinements of ESA, Countryside Stewardship and other agri-environment management agreements concerning fertilizer use on unimproved and semi-improved neutral meadows to ensure environmental objectives are achieved.
Objective
1.1 Identify whether optimum amounts and frequencies of application of FYM exist for the maintenance or enhancement of botanical interests of a range of unimproved or semi-improved mesotrophic/neutral grassland communities and quantify the effects of deviations from these optima on botanical composition.

1.2 Identify whether differences exist between the impact of FYM and equivalent amounts of nutrients applied as inorganic fertilizers on the botanical composition and agronomic output of a range of unimproved or semi-improved mesotrophic/neutral grassland communities.

1.3 Identify any differences between an organic pelleted fertilizer and equivalent nutrient inputs applied as inorganic fertilizers in their impact on the botanical composition and agronomic output of a range of unimproved or semi-improved mesotrophic/neutral grassland communities.

1.4 Identify any interaction between the use of FYM and lime inputs on the botanical composition and agronomic output of a range of unimproved or semi-improved mesotrophic/neutral grassland communities.

2. Quantify the agricultural productivity obtained from applying amounts of FYM that maintain or enhance the botanical interests of unimproved or semi-improved mesotrophic/neutral grassland communities and, compare these outputs with those achieved by applying equivalent amounts of inorganic fertilizer.

3. Quantify the impact of length of storage, disturbance/handling and exposure to the prevailing weather on FYM nutrient composition, to enable variations in FYM nutrient inputs to be taken into account .

4.1 Identify the impact of FYM applications on soil microbial communities, including mycorrhizal fungi, compared with application of equivalent amounts of inorganic fertilizer.

4.2 Identify whether broad-scale assessments of microbial communities are more sensitive to changes in soil chemistry than higher plant communities and thus would be a more robust early warning indicator of unsustainable fertilizer practice.

5. Provide guidelines for sustainable fertilizer and liming practices for mesotrophic/neutral semi-natural grasslands.
Project Documents
• Final Report : The impact of organic fertilizers on semi-natural grasslands (old BD0334)   (150k)
• Final Report - Annex : The impact of organic fertilizers on semi-natural grasslands (old BD0334)   (83k)
• Final Report - Annex : The impact of organic fertilizers on semi-natural grasslands (old BD0334)   (1203k)
• Final Report - Annex : The impact of organic fertilizers on semi-natural grasslands (old BD0334)   (3109k)
• Final Report - Annex : The impact of organic fertilizers on semi-natural grasslands (old BD0334)   (124k)
• Final Report - Annex : The impact of organic fertilizers on semi-natural grasslands (old BD0334)   (238k)
• Final Report - Annex : The impact of organic fertilizers on semi-natural grasslands (old BD0334)   (475k)
• Final Report - Annex : The impact of organic fertilizers on semi-natural grasslands (old BD0334)   (977k)
• Final Report - Annex : The impact of organic fertilizers on semi-natural grasslands (old BD0334)   (268k)
• Final Report - Annex : The impact of organic fertilizers on semi-natural grasslands (old BD0334)   (99k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1999

To: 2005

Cost: £663,443
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Belfast - Queens, Institute of Grassland and Environment Research (IGER), ADAS UK Ltd.
Keywords
Agricultural Land              
Biodiversity              
Environmental Protection              
Grasslands              
Land              
Peer Review              
Fields of Study
Environmental Stewardship