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Legume based plant mixtures for delivery of multiple ecosystem services: An overview of benefits

Döring, Thomas F.; Baddeley, J. A.; Brown, RJ; Collins, R; Crowley, Oliver; Cuttle, Steve; McCalman, Heather; Pearce, Bruce; Roderick, Stephen; Stobart, Ron; Storkey, Jonathan; Watson, Christine; Wolfe, Martin and Jones, H E (2012) Legume based plant mixtures for delivery of multiple ecosystem services: An overview of benefits. In: McCracken, K (Ed.) Agriculture and the Environment IX, Valuing Ecosystems: Policy, Economic and Management Interactions, pp. 150-155.

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As costs for mineral fertilizers rise, legume-based leys are recognised as a potential alternative nitrogen source for crops. Here we demonstrate that including species-rich legume-based leys in the rotation helps to maximize synergies between agricultural productivity and other ecosystem services. By using functionally diverse plant species mixtures these services can be optimised and fine-tuned to regional and farm-specific needs. Field experiments run over three years at multiple locations showed that the stability of ley performance was greater in multi-species mixtures than in legume monocultures. In addition, mixing different legume species in the ley helps to suppress both early and late weeds. Further, combining complementary phenologies of different legume species extended forage availability for key pollinator species. Finally, widening the range of legume species increases opportunities to build short term leys into rotations on conventional farms via cover cropping or undersowing.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Paper
Subjects: Crop husbandry > Production systems > Pasture and forage crops
Soil > Nutrient turnover
Environmental aspects > Biodiversity and ecosystem services
Research affiliation: UK > Univ. Aberystwyth > Institute for Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS)
UK > Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
UK > Duchy College
UK > Organic Research Centre (ORC)
UK > Rothamsted Research (RES)
UK > Scottish Rural Colleges (SRUC - previously SAC)
UK > Univ. of Reading
ISBN:1 85482 996 3
Deposited By: Crowley, Mr O
ID Code:20718
Deposited On:19 Apr 2012 12:58
Last Modified:11 Jun 2021 07:53
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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