Benefits of sward diversity for agricultural grasslands

A. Luscher, J. A. Finn, J. Connolly, M. T. Sebastia, R. P. Collins, M. Fothergill, C. Porqueddu, Caroline Brophy, O. Huguenin-Elie, L. Kirwan, D. Nyfeler, A. Helgadottir

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review

26 Citations (SciVal)


A pan-European experiment carried out at 28 sites across Europe showed strong benefits of sward diversity in agricultural grasslands. We systematically varied the relative abundance of four agronomic plant species (sown species evenness), and found that 4-species mixtures yielded more forage than could be expected on the basis of the monoculture yields. Mixtures generally yielded more than even the best performing monoculture (transgressive overyielding). Mixtures strongly reduced the incidence of unsown species in the sward. These diversity effects were consistent over the wide range of environmental conditions and persisted over three harvest years and in highly fertilized conditions. These results indicate a strong potential for agronomic mixtures to contribute to more sustainable agricultural systems. Agronomic diversity can improve forage yield and reduce weed invasion in intensively managed grasslands, and may also enhance the provision of other ecosystem services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-32
Number of pages4
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2008


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