Nature-orientated and sustainable grassland management in Saxony-Anhalt to promote the Natura 2000 habitat types 6510 as well as Dactylorhiza majalis as a species of national response

  • Project goals

    Project goals

    The projects results will contribute to a quality assurance for nature-orientated management of grasslands.
    The findings and recommendations of the project are also supposed to deliver a scientifically based derivation of measures for regulations, management- and developmental plans of Natura 2000 habitat types 6510 and for selected aspects also for wetland meadows. In addition, the results of the project should enable a future development of the funding guidelines of Saxony-Anhalt.
    Furthermore, the project aims to inform land users about limitations they must take into account and to which extent restrictions are economically viable as a result of the implementation of measures aiming to restore or maintain a favourable conservation status.
    The results of the project thus support argumentations for the implementation of the Natura 2000 directive in Saxony-Anhalt.
    In addition, the practical measures of the project have a direct positive impact on Dactylorhiza majalis, a species of national response, and show a strong windfall effect for other endangered species and legally protected biotopes.


    Important priorities for the work of the project are:

    • Investigation of minimally invasive sowing techniques of target species for a successful development of the Natura 2000 habitat type 6510 (lowland hay meadow)
    • Investigations regarding the influence of management factors on the conservation status of grassland communities of the Natura 2000 habitat type 6510 (Submontane hay meadow in the southern Harz Mountains)
    • Revitalization of moist and wet meadows with current or historical distribution of Dactylorhiza majalis (western marsh orchid)
    • Evaluating impacts of different management practices on population development and reintroduction of Dactylorhiza majalis (western marsh orchid)
    • Updating and expanding the guideline „Grünlandleitfaden“, public relations activities and knowledge transfer
  • Management trial Hayn (Submontane hay meadow – Natura 2000 habitat type 6510)

    Management trial Hayn (Submontane hay meadow – Natura 2000 habitat type 6510)

    Within the management trial at the Landesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Gartenbau in Hayn, we are investigating the impact of different management factors on the conservation status of natura 2000 habitat type 6510 (lowland hay meadows) at submontane altitude.

    Study area description:
    Altitude: approx. 440 m above sea level                       
    Annual precipitation: 600 mm          
    Annual mean temperature: 6.5 ˚C                

    The experimental site has been established within the project "Nature conservation and sustainable grassland management in Saxony-Anhalt to promote habitat types 6210(*), 6440 and 6510 and the responsibility species Dactylorhiza majalis (NaturGrüST)".

    In 2017 a native wildflower mixture, suitable for the Natura 2000 habitat type 6510, was sown under sub montane, mesotrophic conditions on shallow ground. After one year of development, a management trial was set up in 2018 to examines different combinations of mowing and fertilizing on productive grassland sites while in use (taking promotions into consideration).

    With varying amounts of fertilisers (N, P, K) the following experimental management variants are being tested:

    • Mowing once a year
    • Mowing twice a year
    • Mowing three times a year
    • Mulching in summer (July)
    • Mulching in autumn (October)
    • Mulching two times a year

     

    To observe the effect of different management factors and fertilization intensities, the species composition, vegetation structure, soil nutrients and crop usability as well as appreciation by target species establishment are scientifically tested.

    The findings are supposed to deliver recommendations for a Nature-orientated management of Natura 2000 habitat type 6510 sites, considering economic interest.

     

  • Disturbance and sowing trial Iden (lowland hay meadow – Natura 2000 habitat type 6510)

    Disturbance and sowing trial Iden (lowland hay meadow – Natura 2000 habitat type 6510)

    Within the disturbance and seeding trial at the Landesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Gartenbau in Iden, minimal-invasive sowing techniques for the ecological enhancement of species-poor and ryegrass dominated meadows as well as different dates of sowing are being investigated.

    Since introduction of diaspores in combination with ploughing represents a serious interference into soil structure, alternative techniques of floristic grassland renaturation are tested on the site "Gehrhof" with the aim of developing the Natura 2000 habitat type 6510 (lowland hay meadow).

    The investigations will contribute to a solid data basis and will enable recommendations for a successful development of the FFH habitat type 6510 from species-poor and ryegrass dominated meadows.

    Study area description:
    Altitude: approx. 25 m above sea level                       
    Annual precipitation: 541 mm          
    Annual mean temperature: 8.9 ˚C

    The following disturbance and sowing variants are being tested on the "Gehrhof" site:

    • slitting + sowing                             
    • Milling grooves + sowing                             
    • Milling + sowing
    • Control + sowing
    • Control

     

    To observe the effect of different disturbance intensities during sowing, the species composition, vegetation structure, soil nutrients and crop usability as well as appreciation by target species establishment are scientifically tested.
    In September 2020, a native wildflower mixture, suitable for the Natura 2000 habitat type 6510, was sown on the site „Gehrhof“ according to the different disturbance and sowing variants and has been rolled with a Cambridge roller.

     

    Seeding variants slitting, milling grooves and milling (from left to right) (Photos: S. Dullau).

    On the grazed site "Beverlake" the establishment success of a late sowing (sowing in September 2020) is compared with the establishment success of an early sowing (sowing in March/April 2021). The scientific investigations follow the same procedure as the "Gehrhof" trial.

    Only a few weeks after sowing, the seedlings of a number of target species could be identified on the plots of the trial areas.

    Seedlings of the target species from left to right: Centaurea jacea & Knautia arvensis (Photo: S. Dullau), Achillea millefolium, Vicia cracca, Trifolium pratense (Photos: P. Scholz).

  • Re-introduction, management and revitalising of moist and wet grasslands with current or historical distribution of Dactylorhiza majalis as a species of national response

    Re-introduction, management and revitalising of moist and wet grasslands with current or historical distribution of Dactylorhiza majalis as a species of national response

    The moist and wet meadows of the biosphere reserve “Karstlandschaft Südharz“ with its current or historical distribution of the orchid species Dactylorhiza majalis (western marsh orchid) has already been object of investigation in the project “NaturGrüST“.

    To develop recommendations for a nature-orientated and sustainable management of
    of moist and wet grasslands with current or historical distribution of Dactylorhiza majalis, as well as recommendations for the re-introduction and strengthen of the species, two since 2017 existing trials “Struthwiese“ (management trial) and “Rote Wiese“ (re-establishment trial) were continued.

    Existing knowledge about germination
    of Dactylorhiza majalis will be extended by an experimental germination trial.

    Furthermore, actions for a actively re-introduction and strengthening of Dactylorhiza majalis will be taken on three selected meadows in the biosphere reserve “Karstlandschaft Südharz“, in order to improve its conservation status and to enable a management of underused moist and wet grasslands.

     

    Flowering aspect of Dactylorhiza majalis on the „Struthwiese“ in May 2016 (photo left: N. Adert, photo right: S. Dullau).

    • Dactylorhiza majalis - management trial "Struthwiese“

      Dactylorhiza majalis - management trial "Struthwiese“

      Study area description:
      Altitude: approx. 422 m above sea level                       
      Annual precipitation: 500-700 mm          
      Annual mean temperature: 7-7.8 ˚C

      In 2017 a trial was set up in the eastern part of the biosphere reserve “Karstlandschaft Südharz“ near Wettelrode to investigate the impact of five different management variants on the western marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza majalis). The full randomised trial consists of the following management methods:

      • One year of abandonment of use
      • Mulching
      • Single grained (early mowing before flowering)
      • Single-curly (summer mowing for seed ripening)
      • Double-coated (early mowing + late mowing)

       

      Yearly relevés ensure a close monitoring of the vegetation development on the trial site. Dactylorhiza majalis individuals are counted each year and vitality characterisitcs are recorded.

      In addition to the management trial, a germination trial was set up to determine the germination rate of Dactylorhiza majalis and to draw conclusions about the importance of weather influences. For this purpose, slide frames prepared with seeds from the local population of Dactylorhiza majalis were inserted into the top soil layer in July 2020. For regular germination controls, individual frames are removed and microscopically examined.

    • Dactylorhiza majalis - Trial to actively re-introduce Dactylorhiza majalis at "Rote Wiese"

      Dactylorhiza majalis - Trial to actively re-introduce Dactylorhiza majalis at "Rote Wiese"

      Study area description:

      Altitude: approx. 379 m above sea level                       
      Annual precipitation: 500-700 mm          
      Annual mean temperature: 7-7.9 ˚C        
           
      On a second site in the eastern part of the biosphere reserve (“Rote Wiese”), a trial was set up in 2017 to gather information about actively re-introducing of western marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza majalis). Main point of interest are the specific conditions under which a actively re-introduction of Dactylorhiza majalis via sowing is possible.
      Management of the site was not changed (cutting once a year in July and removing the hay). Since a small population of Dactylorhiza majalis can be found on the site already the site seems fit to host the species.

      The re-introduction trial consists of six different variants including two creating open soil spots:

      • Removing topsoil (shallow)
      • Removing topsoil (deep)
      • Removing topsoil (shallow) + sowing
      • Removing topsoil (deep) + sowing
      • Sowing only
      • Control

       

      Since 2018 yearly relevés ensure a close monitoring of the vegetation development on the trial site. At regular intervals, seedlings of Dactylorhiza majalis are sought and the establishment and further development documented.

      Fenced site "Rote Wiese" in spring 2020 (left) with flowering individual of Dactylorhiza majalis (right) (Photos: N. Adert).

    • Dactylorhiza majalis - monitoring of 10 plots sown in 2018

      Dactylorhiza majalis - monitoring of 10 plots sown in 2018

      In summer 2018, Dactylorhiza majalis seeds were sown on 10 meadows in the biosphere reserve “Karstlandschaft Südharz“ as part of the “NaturGrüST“ project, to re-introduce or strengthen Dactylorhiz majalis.

      As an alternative disturbance variant to the clearly more invasive ploughing (management trial "Struthwiese"), a turned-over topsoil before sowing has been tested.

       

      2018 sowing plots with turned-over topsoil (Photos: S. Dullau).

    • Dactylorhiza majalis - re-introduction and strengthening of the population on 3 wetland meadows

      Dactylorhiza majalis - re-introduction and strengthening of the population on 3 wetland meadows

      On three meadows of the biosphere reserve “Karstlandschaft Südharz“Dactylorhiza majalis is supposed to be re-introduced or strengthed in small populations.

      The meadows are currently unused or mulched once a year and are characterized by high vegetation and dense litter cover.
      In addition to the immediate improvement of the conservation status of Dactylorhiza majalis, measures are planed to enable an regular management of underused moist and wet grasslands.

      The first measure implementation took place in July 2020.
      In order to ensure long-term manageability and create suitable habitat conditions for the target species, shrubs were removed, pasture was mowed and litter deposits were removed as well as cart off the site.

      Wetland meadow before, during and after measures for the promotion and reintroduction of Dactylorhiza majalis in July 2020 (Photos: N. Adert).

      For the reintroduction of Dactylorhiza majalis seeds of a nearby individual-rich population were harvested and sawn in small sowing plots in August 2020.

      At regular intervals, seedlings of Dactylorhiza majalis are sought and the establishment and further development documented.

       

  • Knowledge transfer and public relations

    Knowledge transfer and public relations

    • Field day Iden

      Field day Iden

      During a guided tour of the trial field in July 2021, interested parties were given the opportunity to visit the disturbance and sowing trial at the Iden (Altmark) site. Together, the vegetation development and the establishment success of the sowing species for the different disturbance and sowing variants were examined and discussed.

      For all interested parties, a trial field guide is available for download (only german), which informs about the contents of the guided tour as well as about the first results of the trial.

    For information on upcoming events of the project, please visit our Announcements.

    Recommendations for a nature orientated management of wetland meadows with current distribution of Dactylorhiza majalis as well as for reintroduction and population strengthening of the species are available in the Dactylorhiza majalis  guideline.

    Recommendations for the management of the Natura 2000 habitat types 6510 (lowland meadows), 6440 (floodplain meadow ) and 6520 (mountain hay meadows) can be found in the guideline „Grünlandleitfaden“.

    Current insights into the project are also available on „Offenlandinfo“ on Instagram.

  • Archive

    Archive

    Information on sustainable development & nature orientated management to promote the Natura 2000 habitat type 6510 and populations of the species of national response Dactylorhiza majalis (western marsh-orchid) in Saxony-Anhalt from the predeceding project can be found here.