Over the past decade, several experimental studies have tested the effects of drought events on European grassland systems, which are a mayor land use type in Europe and critical sources of fodder for livestock farming. Although these studies generally suggest a reduced biomass production in grasslands as response to drought, it is unclear if drought events occurring at different times of the year, i.e. in spring, summer or fall, will have different effects on grassland productivity and fodder quality.
This is an interdisciplinary research project that will combine plant ecophysiology, ecosystem sciences, and applied forage production research with stakeholder outreach for grassland farmers. The overall goal of the project is to (i) understand the interacting effects of seasonal drought events and species phenological stages on fodder production and fodder quality in Swiss grasslands, and (ii) to develop adapted management strategies for grasslands in the face of increased drought events and disseminate these strategies directly to stakeholders (farmers, extension services, agricultural schools, seed industry, policy).