ISSN 1392-3196 / e-ISSN 2335-8947
Zemdirbyste-Agriculture, vol. 107, No. 3 (2020), p. 209–216
DOI 10.13080/z-a.2020.107.027

Root development of temporary and permanent grasslands and their anti-erosion significance on a hilly terrain



The study aimed to investigate changes in root development of grasslands in differently eroded ecotopes and impact on slope stability. The experiment was carried out at the Vėžaičiai Branch of Lithuanian Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry. The soil of the northern exposition slope was Bathygleyic Dystric Glossic Retisol (slightly eroded); the soil of the southern exposition slope, due to very severe erosion in the upper part, was Orthieutric Regosol  (severely eroded). The impact of hill expositions (southern exposition, slope of 12–14o and northern exposition, slope of 11–13o), parts of the hill (summit, midslope and footslope) and type of the grassland: temporary, established in 2014 (alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) 50% + timothy (Phleum pratense L.) 35% + meadow grass (Poa pratensis L.) 15%) and permanent, established in 1983 (timothy (Phleum pratense L.) 20%, red fescue (Festuca rubra L.) 20%, meadow grass (Poa pratensis L.) 20%, white clover (Trifolium repens L.) 20%, common bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.) 20%) on root development was very unequal. The root mass was significantly influenced by the age of the grasslands: in the 1st experimental year the root mass of the permanent grassland was 13.4 times greater compared to that of the temporary grassland. Root mass differences gradually decreased, while temporary grassland developed and in the 3rd year it levelled off. The highest proportion (80–90%) of the investigated grassland root mass was found in 0–10 cm soil layer. Total root length of the temporary grassland was significantly greater on the footslope of the hill, and the average root diameter did not depend on the exposition and part of the hill. Hill slopes were not affected by water erosion, when sustainable agro-systems were based on growing perennial grassland and grass-cereal crop rotations with temporary grassland.

Key words: environmental conditions, grass ecosystems, morphological parameters of roots, slope stability.

Full text: 107_3_str27.pdf