Austria: Biodiversity on dairy farms of Sennerei Hatzenstädt (2 stage project)
Summary of final report:
This case study within WP1 assessed the biodiversity situation on ten farms of the Cooperative Organic Dairy Hatzenstädt in Tyrol (Austria). The study was conducted in two parts. At first we conducted an extensive field survey of the grassland vegetation and landscape elements as well as interviews with the farmers on these ten study farms. In addition, we calculated the so-called biodiversity potential using an assessment method which takes into account a set of parameters concerning farming measures, landscape elements and habitats promoting biodiversity to estimate how biodiversity friendly or biodiversity promoting a farm is managed (Schader et al. 2014).
In accordance with the aims of WP1 participation of farmers was central in both parts of this study. Two workshops – in April 201 3and in January 2014 – offered the opportunity for a dialogue between farmers and scientists. Results were presented to and discussed with the farmers and a report was provided to every farmer.
There was generally low management intensity : meadows used for hay production were cut not more often than three times per year, moderate fertilisation levels and mean stocking rates of 1 livestock unit per ha. This was reflected by a broad range and high diversity of grassland vegetation. In total, 48 different types and 293 species of vascular plants and mosses were recorded. The number of grassland vegetation types per farm ranged from 13 to a maximum of 24 (mean: 20).
With a mean biodiversity potential of 40% all study farms achieved good results. This outcome is based on the fact that the studied farms are organically managed in combination with a generally low intensity level. Besides that, this assessment method allows to identify improvement potential for biodiversity management.
The farms assessed in this case study demonstrate in which way a traditional, small-scale, low-input, low-intensity dairy farming system can maintain high levels of biodiversity.