Impoverished lowland hay meadows

This habitat includes widely farmed hay meadows both in lowlands and uplands Fertilisation is almost completely absent, resulting in an extremely broad variety of species. As the first hay crop is not taken before the main flowering time of the grasses, these meadows have the appearance of a flower-decked, natural meadow full of wild flowers. The term "impoverished lowland meadows" includes both dry and well-watered locations.
 

Origin of the impoverished lowland hay meadows

The absence of fertilisers has maintained the natural competitive situation of the meadow plants and therefore kept the species balance intact. The resulting wide variety, including in the area of the vertical structure of plants, leads to a biodiversity of fauna, particularly insects. Diurnal moths are particular beneficiaries of the impoverished lowland meadows.

Flora and Fauna

Apart from general biodiversity which is fostered, the blue-black large blue (Glaucopsyche nausithous) is of great importance in this connection.  The establishment of a population which is as large as possible is sought through the management of the meadows. The semi-natural use of the meadows also benefits the hard shelled river mussel (Unio crassus) which is very sensitive to fertiliser run-off into the stream and river habitats which are often to be found in the vicinity of meadows.

Significance for Europe

The rarity of impoverished lowland meadow habitats combined with the high level of biodiversity and the enrichment of landscape by the plethora of wild flowers explains the particular interest in this extensive type of farming.