This site, set up on the semi-natural grasslands of the Massif Central (850 to 1040 metres above sea level, semi-continental climate), aims to analyse over the long term the relationships between management practices, community dynamics and ecosystem services. In Theix, two contrasting levels of grassland consumption are compared without nitrogen fertilizer by manipulating livestock density (sheep and grazing cattle) and in comparison with an unused control plot. Grazing and mowing are also compared by including mowed plots with three contrasting levels of inorganic fertilizer inputs. Experimental treatments have been applied since 2005 with four replicates per treatment on 400 to 2200 m² of plots. The plots are equipped for continuous recording of meteorological data, soil temperature and humidity. Regular measurements are made of many variables: aerial plant production, nutrient quality and content, soil chemistry, major layered soil condition variables, plant diversity status, earthworms and microbial communities.
The site provides the following services to scientists:
- An in situ ecosystem experimentation service;
- Instrumentation for the long-term monitoring of these ecosystems and the in situ measurement of environmental parameters;
- Devices and tools for collecting samples and data on the ecosystems studied.
INRA Centre de Recherche Theix 63122 Saint Genès Champanelle