Effect of grass-clover on the ecosystem services soil structure maintenance and water regulation

N.J.M. van Eekeren, J.G. Bokhorst, L. Brussaard, C.J. Koopmans

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper

Abstract

White clover has a lower root biomass and a higher abundance of earthworms than grass. This might have an impact on the ecosystem services soil structure maintenance and water regulation when white clover is introduced in the grassland on organic dairy farms. We investigated the root biomass, the abundance of earthworms and a selection of soil physical parameters in white clover, grass-clover, and grass with and without N fertilizer. The treatment with clover-only had a lower root biomass, a lower C/N-ratio of the roots, a higher abundance of earthworms, a higher number of earthworm burrows, a lower penetration resistance at the 20-30 cm soil layer and a lower proportion of crumbs in the soil, than the other treatments. This confirms the literature that pure clover stimulates the ecosystem services of water regulation, but is less conducive to soil structure maintenance. However, the grass-clover mixture did not differ significantly from the grass treatments, but differed from pure clover in a higher percentage of soil crumbs. We infer that, when clover is introduced in grassland on organic dairy farms to fix atmospheric N2, the mixture of grass and clover maintains the positive impact of grass roots on soil structure but only may show a positive effect of clover-only on water regulation with a higher clover percentage in the dry matter.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the third scientific conference of the International Society of Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR), 28 Sept - 1 Oct 2011
Pages44-47
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventOrganic is life - knowledge for tomorrow. Proceedings of the third scientific conference of the International Society of Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR) 28 September - 1 October -
Duration: 28 Sep 20111 Oct 2011

Conference

ConferenceOrganic is life - knowledge for tomorrow. Proceedings of the third scientific conference of the International Society of Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR) 28 September - 1 October
Period28/09/111/10/11

Keywords

  • grass-clover swards
  • dairy farming
  • organic farming
  • trifolium repens
  • earthworms
  • soil structure
  • soil water retention
  • roots

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