Maintaining saline grasslands in good condition, preserving their yield and diversity is important not only for the purpose of nature conservation, but also for farming. Therefore, the primary purpose of our study is to analyse the effect of pasture use of the smaller weight extensive and the larger weight intensive beef cattle on the grassland vegetation and nutrient content. In this way, we can answer the question whether grazing for nature conservation can be achieved with more profitable, more economical and more intense varieties.
The tests were carried out in May 2016 and May 2017, in the Hortobágy National Park (Pap-ere and Zám puszta), where a total of 16 sample areas were analysed. These areas are grazed with extensive beef cattle (Hungarian grey) and mixed genotype of intensive cattle. The associations were selected along a moisture gradient, such as wet salt marsh (Bolboschoenetum maritimi) and drier saline meadow (Beckmannion eruciformis). All the vegetative material collected both years in May was analysed for the following parameters: dry matter, crude protein, crude fibre and life-sustaining net energy content. We compared the effects of medium grazing (0.46 livestock/ha) and abandonment on vegetation and nutrient content.
We examined the effect of (i) grazing, (ii) different grasslands (salt marsh, saline meadow) and (iii) grazing of different cattle breeds (Hungarian grey, intensive beef) on the nutrient content of the vegetation of grasslands Based on our results, it was found that grazing had an impact on crude protein and life-sustaining net energy content. The highest crude protein content (12.75 m/m%) was obtained in the year 2017 in the area where higher density had been grazed for two years. For the lifesustaining net energy, the highest value (5.05 MJ/kg d.m.) was also obtained in 2017 and the lowest in 2016. Furthermore, it was found that there was no significant difference between the effect of the two cattle breeds on the parameters examined. Significant effects were observed only in the case of life-sustaining net energy: in the area of intensive beef cattle we received a higher value (5.15 MJ/kg body weight) than in the area with extensive beef cattle (4.96 MJ/kg body weight).
Our results have also shown that cattle grazing is of the utmost importance for the maintenance of both wet and mesophilous habitats. Based on our three-year study, we can say that grazing by both extensive and intensive cattle breeds is suitable for the management of saline habitats.
Coenological surveys were conducted in the Hortobágy National Park (Pap-ere and Zám-puszta) in May 2015 and 2016. During the tests,a total of 40 permanent plots were analyzed on grasslands grazed by extensive cattle (Hungarian Grey) and mixed genotype intensive cattle. The presence of plant species, percentages of total coverage of species and vegetation cover were recorded. Two habitat types were chosen according to their moisture content: wet salt marsh meadow (Bolboschoenetum maritimi) and drier salt meadows (Beckmannion eruciformis).
We compared the impact of increased number of animals (2016 years) and the low number of animals (2015 years, initial state) and the grazing exclusion on vegetations.
We tested: (i) what is the impact of grazing on the vegetation, (ii) how do species composition and vegetation charachteristics differ in the two habitat types (iii) and is there a difference in the impact of different cattle breeds (Hungarian gray, intensive beef cattle) grazing on the grasslands species composition? During the investigation we found, (i) that the greatest number of species was recorded in 2015, on the area that received moderate to intensive grazing (14.3 species per m2). Somewhat the number of species was reduced in 2016 due to more intensive grazing. The control group had the lowest number of species (11.7 species per m2). The undergrass and legumes cover significantly increased on intensive grazed lands. (ii) Our results indicate that the effects of different grazing differ in the two studied habitat types. On the drier grasslands greater number of species were found (16.2 species per m2), oppositely to the wet grassland (11.2 species per m2). The cover of the undergrasses was higher in the drier habitat than in the wet. (iii) The extensive beef cattle left a bigger number of species (16 species per m2) than the intensive beef cattle (11.4 species per m2). The grass cover was more intense on areas grazed by intensive cattle. The absolute and potential weeds cover showed a higher value on areas grazed by Hungarian Grey. Our two-year results suggest that grazing by both extensive and intensive cattle breeds can be a proper tool for the conservation management of alkali grasslands.