median values indicate <4% of weed biomass in total yield, whereas the median percentage of weeds in monocultures increased from 15% in year 1 to 32% in year 3. Within each year, there was a highly significant relationship (P < 00001) between sward evenness and the diversity effect (excess of mixture performance over that predicted from the monoculture performances of component species). At lower evenness values, increases in community evenness resulted in an increased diversity effect, but the diversity effect was not significantly different from the maximum diversity effect across a wide range of higher evenness
values. The latter indicates the robustness of the diversity effect to changes in species’ relative abundances. Across sites with three complete years of data (24 of the 31 sites), the effect of interactions between the fast-establishing and temporal persistent trait levels of temporal development was highly significant and comparable in magnitude to effects of interactions between N2-fixing and nonfixing trait levels of nitrogen acquisition.
Synthesis and applications: The design of grassland mixtures is relevant to farm-level strategies to achieve sustainable intensification. Experimental evidence indicated significant yield benefits of four species agronomic mixtures which yielded more than the highest-yielding monoculture at most sites. The results are relevant for agricultural practice and show how grassland mixtures can be designed to improve resource complementarity, increase yields and reduce weed invasion. The yield benefits were robust to considerable changes in the relative
proportions of the four species, which is extremely useful for practical management of grassland swards.