The importance of grassland research

The importance of grasslands

The economic and ecological importance of permanent grasslands is special; these huge green areas are unsuspectedly intimately related to our lives and the conservation of the environment in which we live. Thus, the grasslands represent:

1. Source of food for domestic animals

Much of the juicy and fibrous fodder needed to raise livestock is obtained from natural grasslands. In this way, the grass on the huge areas of permanent grassland is transformed, through animals, into the most valuable foods - milk and meat - and other highly valuable animal products.

In our country, the share of permanent grasslands in the balance of juicy and fibrous fodder is about 35%.
The difference is ensured by fodder crops in their own field and by successive fodder crops.

The documents on the development of agriculture emphasize that grasslands must be the main source of feed for cattle and sheep. The orientation in this direction of the feeding of sheep and cattle reflects a real situation: these animals must consume, first of all, products that cannot enter directly into human food .

2. Habitat and food source for wild animals

Most species of wild animals, from the lower to the upper ones, regardless of their position in the food chain, have their primary source of food in the grass of the meadows. In this way, meadows become, along with forests, the main ecosystems that ensure the survival of those species and the main habitat for the conservation of species - animals and plants - threatened with extinction.

3. Means of preventing and combating erosion

Herbs have a high capacity to absorb water, to retain and raise the soil capacity for water. A grassland located on a gentle slope, with a closed vegetal carpet, 20 cm high, retains about seven times more water than a similar uncultivated arable land, and about four times more than when the meadow is overgrazed (Semple, 1970). It follows that cultivated and rationally used grasslands are an excellent means of preventing and combating soil erosion.

4. Means of improving soil structure and fertility

As shown above, the most fertile soils have formed under the grass cover of the primary natural meadows. This is due to the fasciculate root system of the grasses, which crosses the layers of the soil surface "binding" it in a structure of aggregates and enriching it in organic matter. Bacteria and leguminous nodules also contribute to raising soil fertility by fixing atmospheric nitrogen and storing it in the soil.

The importance of grassland research

The first data on the vegetation of Romania began to appear at the end of the 19th century, in the descriptions of some foreign travelers. An image of the country's vegetation also emerges from the lists of plants gathered on the Romanian territory, as well as from the geographical maps, on which the spread of the plants was represented. In 1863, Anton Kerner von Marilaun published a floristic map of the Danube countries, which contributed to the further development of phytogeographic research. In the long list of researchers who then dealt with the country's flora should be mentioned: A. Procopianu-Procopovici who drew up the first map of the country's vegetation (1902), then D. Brandza and D. Grecescu - the founders of botany in Romania. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, notable botanists made valuable contributions, especially in the field of floristics and systematics.

The study of grassland vegetation in our country includes 3 stages: the first stage which includes studies up to 1900 is represented by quite dissipated information on the practical vegetation. The period 1900-1944 is defined by more extensive phytogeographical and phytocenological studies, in which the first observations regarding the forage values of vegetation are spread. The third period from 1945 until today is characterized by the development of geobotanical research (phytocenological and ecological) in connection with the needs of production, through works that defined the Romanian School of Practice. Some of the fundamental works published during this period have boosted the development of practical research within the Faculty of Agriculture in the country or within the Agricultural Research Stations.

The first original studies on grasslands from the phytocenologic and economic point of view are those carried out by I. Safta, rightly considered the initiator of the pratological research in Romania. Thus, in his vast work "Geobotanical research on pastures in Transylvania" based on studies undertaken for 6 years (1937-1942) the author researched a number of 800 pastures spread from the plains to the alpine floor. The most important types of grasslands in this area were described and characterized. It should be noted that in this study the author did not limit himself to a very detailed floristic description of the meadows, but links their vegetation to the stationary conditions, making a phytosociological-typological classification and a characterization of them for production needs.

In the work of I. Prodan "The meadows and pastures of Northern Transylvania", from 1948, the great botanist describes in many details numerous associations of meadows from the floristic and ecological aspect, but also appreciations from an agricultural point of view.

The most important work that is carried out on the geobotanical and agro-productive study is "Pastures and Meadows from the Republic of Romania", which is the first geobotanical inventory of the main associations and formations of existing meadows in our country. In the elaboration of this vast work, a number of 31 highly qualified professionals from higher education and research collaborated through field research and synthesis.

The studies of natural grasslands in different areas of the country have been the subject of numerous doctoral theses of high scientific value, thus making an important contribution to the knowledge and enhancement of grasslands in our country.

As an ecosystem, the meadow with its general characteristics was a well-documented study by Professor I. Puia in 1980.

The study of grassland ecosystems according to modern concepts has been and is an important concern of the century of grassland ecology within the Institute, both in the works of characterization and grading of the pastoral fund, and in the scientific substantiation of grassland cultivation technologies.

"The meadows of the Romanian Carpathians" which appeared in 1985, is an analysis work that describes the flora, vegetation and the main types of meadows in the Carpathians with thematic recommendations on measures to improve those meadows.

"The main types of grasslands in the Popular Republic of Romania" was published in 1987, with the collaboration of a large team from ICPCP Brașov; it is a synthesis of geobotanical, pratological, pedological and ecological research carried out over a period of 50 years, from 1936 to 1986, to establish the types of grasslands.

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