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Restoration of species-rich Nardus grasslands: exploring the technique of phosphorus mining

Stephanie Schelfhout (UGent) , An De Schrijver (UGent) , Kris Verheyen (UGent) , Geert Haesaert (UGent) and Jan Mertens (UGent)
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Organization
Abstract
Species-rich semi-natural Nardus grassland is a high priority European habitat type (6230) that decreased dramatically in area due to agricultural intensification. Restoration is often difficult because of the high soil nutrient content, resulting from the heavy fertilization in an agricultural context. Since phosphorus (P) is one of the least mobile mineral nutrients, many agricultural soils have large reserves. High bioavailable P-concentrations homogenize the vegetation due to the dominant growth of a few competitive species. Standard restoration techniques consist of mowing and removal of cuttings in order to deplete the soil P-pool. As a consequence of nitrogen and potassium limitation, after few years the biomass production and consequently the removal of nutrients decrease. Therefore, mowing appears to be a time-consuming (several decades) management technique. A second method by which nutrients are rapidly removed is excavation of the P enriched topsoil. This is a very expensive operation where also the soil buffering components and soil biota are exported which might be crucial for successful reestablishment of species-rich grasslands. In this oral presentation, we elaborate on a third technique for removal of nutrients from the soil: the technique of P mining. This is a promising technique by which soils are depleted of P by cultivating crops with a non-P fertilization to maintain high biomass production, providing a gradual transition from agricultural to nature management on former agricultural soils. However, little knowledge is available on how much P can be removed and which crops should be used during the transition from phosphorus rich to phosphorus poor soil conditions. We present data of both greenhouse and field experiments in which crops were cultivated in sandy soils with different bioavailable soil P levels ranging from 155 to 6 mg Olsen P kg-1 dry soil (soil-P-chronosequence). Reference sites of Nardus grasslands are reported to have very low soil P-concentrations (< 10 mg Olsen P kg-1 dry soil). Across the total soil-P-chronosequence, P-extraction decreased with soil-P-concentration, indicating retardation of the P-extraction process. Different crops were found to have specific P-extraction patterns depending on the soil-P-level. For each soil-P-level, the best suited crops and potential crop rotations resulting in maximum P-extraction will be presented.
Keywords
P-mining, nature restoration, phosphorus

Citation

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Chicago
Schelfhout, Stephanie, An De Schrijver, Kris Verheyen, Geert Haesaert, and Jan Mertens. 2013. “Restoration of Species-rich Nardus Grasslands: Exploring the Technique of Phosphorus Mining.” In Open Landscapes : Ecology, Management and Nature Conservation : Program and Abstract Book, 86–86. Hildesheim, Germany: University of Hildesheim. Institute for Biology and Chemistry. Ecology and Environmental Education Group.
APA
Schelfhout, S., De Schrijver, A., Verheyen, K., Haesaert, G., & Mertens, J. (2013). Restoration of species-rich Nardus grasslands: exploring the technique of phosphorus mining. Open landscapes : ecology, management and nature conservation : program and abstract book (pp. 86–86). Presented at the Open Landscapes 2013 : Ecology, management and nature conservation, Hildesheim, Germany: University of Hildesheim. Institute for Biology and Chemistry. Ecology and Environmental Education Group.
Vancouver
1.
Schelfhout S, De Schrijver A, Verheyen K, Haesaert G, Mertens J. Restoration of species-rich Nardus grasslands: exploring the technique of phosphorus mining. Open landscapes : ecology, management and nature conservation : program and abstract book. Hildesheim, Germany: University of Hildesheim. Institute for Biology and Chemistry. Ecology and Environmental Education Group; 2013. p. 86–86.
MLA
Schelfhout, Stephanie, An De Schrijver, Kris Verheyen, et al. “Restoration of Species-rich Nardus Grasslands: Exploring the Technique of Phosphorus Mining.” Open Landscapes : Ecology, Management and Nature Conservation : Program and Abstract Book. Hildesheim, Germany: University of Hildesheim. Institute for Biology and Chemistry. Ecology and Environmental Education Group, 2013. 86–86. Print.
@inproceedings{4284375,
  abstract     = {Species-rich semi-natural Nardus grassland is a high priority European habitat type (6230) that decreased dramatically in area due to agricultural intensification. Restoration is often difficult because of the high soil nutrient content, resulting from the heavy fertilization in an agricultural context. Since phosphorus (P) is one of the least mobile mineral nutrients, many agricultural soils have large reserves.  High bioavailable P-concentrations homogenize the vegetation due to the dominant growth of a few competitive species. Standard restoration techniques consist of mowing and removal of cuttings in order to deplete the soil P-pool. As a consequence of nitrogen and potassium limitation, after few years the biomass production and consequently the removal of nutrients decrease. Therefore, mowing appears to be a time-consuming (several decades) management technique. A second method by which nutrients are rapidly removed is excavation of the P enriched topsoil. This is a very expensive operation where also the soil buffering components and soil biota are exported which might be crucial for successful reestablishment of species-rich grasslands. In this oral presentation, we elaborate on a third technique for removal of nutrients from the soil: the technique of P mining. This is a promising technique by which soils are depleted of P by cultivating crops with a non-P fertilization to maintain high biomass production, providing a gradual transition from agricultural to nature management on former agricultural soils. However, little knowledge is available on how much P can be removed and which crops should be used during the transition from phosphorus rich to phosphorus poor soil conditions. 
We present data of both greenhouse and field experiments in which crops were cultivated in sandy soils with different bioavailable soil P levels ranging from 155 to 6 mg Olsen P kg-1 dry soil (soil-P-chronosequence). Reference sites of Nardus grasslands are reported to have very low soil P-concentrations ({\textlangle} 10 mg Olsen P kg-1 dry soil). Across the total soil-P-chronosequence, P-extraction decreased with soil-P-concentration, indicating retardation of the P-extraction process. Different crops were found to have specific P-extraction patterns depending on the soil-P-level. For each soil-P-level, the best suited crops and potential crop rotations resulting in maximum P-extraction will be presented.},
  articleno    = {abstract O3},
  author       = {Schelfhout, Stephanie and De Schrijver, An and Verheyen, Kris and Haesaert, Geert and Mertens, Jan},
  booktitle    = {Open landscapes : ecology, management and nature conservation : program and abstract book},
  keyword      = {P-mining,nature restoration,phosphorus},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Hildesheim, Germany},
  pages        = {abstract O3:86--abstract O3:86},
  publisher    = {University of Hildesheim. Institute for Biology and Chemistry. Ecology and Environmental Education Group},
  title        = {Restoration of species-rich Nardus grasslands: exploring the technique of phosphorus mining},
  url          = {http://www.open-landscapes2013.de/fileadmin/user\_upload/Program/Book\_of\_Abstracts\_incl.Program.pdf},
  year         = {2013},
}