meadow

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meadow

1. an area of grassland, often used for hay or for grazing of animals
2. a low-lying piece of grassland, often boggy and near a river

Meadow

 

a biogeocenosis whose plant component consists chiefly of perennial mesophilic grasses, adapted to average moisture conditions and growing throughout the growing season (without the summer interruption characteristic of steppe plants).

Meadows are connected by transitional terrain with other grassy biogeocenoses, such as steppes and grassy bogs. Most meadows originate on the site of forests and scrub or dried bogs and lakes or as a result of the irrigation of steppes. Natural meadows develop only where climatic and soil conditions are more favorable for perennial mesophilic grasses than for other plants—on long inundated floodplains, on mountains, at seashores in subarctic and subantarctic regions, and around limans in steppe and semidesert regions.

Meadows are valuable grasslands and are used both as hayfields and as pastures. They are very diverse in origin, age, phytocenoses, plant habitat conditions, and yields (10-100 quintals dry weight per hectare [ha] and more). The formation of herbage and sod (that is, the top layer of soil mixed with the roots and rhizomes of grasses) is common to all meadows. The bulk of the ground plant parts in a meadow is usually from three to five times greater than that of the aboveground parts.

There are about 4,000 species of herbaceous plants growing on meadows in the USSR. Grasses or sedges prevail in the herbage. Marked variability (seasonal and annual) and rapid changes brought about by the grazing of cattle, the mowing of hay, and land improvement and reclamation are characteristic of meadows. The differences between meadow types are more or less equalized by intensive use (especially by properly managed grazing) and care (addition of fertilizers, for example).

There are three types of meadows: continental, floodplain, and mountain meadows. Continental meadows are found on plains other than floodplains and are classified as dry meadows (located on plains and slopes fed only by atmospheric precipitation) and low-lying meadows (located in depressions in which soil and groundwaters are close to the surface). Dry meadows develop in the forest zone on the sites of forests on podzolic or brown (less commonly, gray forest) soils. The grasses are comparatively low-growing and unproductive. Substantial stretches of these meadows are used in field-crop rotations or are converted by liming, fertilization, or sowing into long-term cultivated pastures. Low-lying meadows are found in the forest, forest-steppe, and steppe zones. Their soils are richer, and their grass stands more productive than those of dry meadows.

Floodplain meadows are confined to river valleys inundated during high water. They are widespread from the tundras to the deserts and most extensive in the forest and forest-steppe zones. Floodplain meadows are more productive and varied than continental meadows. Substantial areas are used for truck gardens and field crops.

Mountain meadows are found in mountainous regions with a humid and fairly warm climate (in the USSR, they are found in the Carpathians, Caucasus, Tien-Shan, Altai, and Urals) above the timberline (subalpine and alpine meadows) and in the forest zone on the site of destroyed forests (after-forest meadows). Subalpine meadows with stands of comparatively tall grasses are used both as hayfields and as pastures. They are more productive than the alpine meadows, which are located at higher altitudes, are characterized by low-growing grasses, and are used as pastures.

The total world area of meadows is about 150-200 million ha, concentrated in the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere (mainly in the USSR and Western Europe) and in New Zealand. Meadows are being used more intensively in the USSR and abroad. The sown area is increasing, and greater quantities of fertilizers are being used. Irrigation of meadows has become more common. Meadows formerly mowed only once are mowed two or more times a season or turned into efficient pastures.

REFERENCES

Kormovye rasteniia senokosov i pastbishch SSSR, vols. 1-3. Edited by I. V. Larin. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950-56.
Rabotnov, T. A. “Chto schitat’ lugom?” Botanicheskii zhurnal, 1959, no. 1.
Senokosy i pastbishcha. Edited by I. V. Larin. Moscow, 1969.

T. A. RABOTNOV

meadow

[′med·ō]
(ecology)
A vegetation zone which is a low grassland, dense and continuous, variously interspersed with forbs but few if any shrubs. Also known as pelouse; Wiesen.
(engineering)
Range of air-fuel ratio within which smooth combustion may be had.
References in classic literature ?
I can easily walk ten, fifteen, twenty, any number of miles, commencing at my own door, without going by any house, without crossing a road except where the fox and the mink do: first along by the river, and then the brook, and then the meadow and the woodside.
Nothing was to be seen save flat meadows, cows feeding unconcernedly for the most part, and silvery pollard willows motionless in the warm sunlight.
At length they emerged upon a stream of clear water, one of the forks of Powder River, and to their great joy beheld once more wide grassy meadows, stocked with herds of buffalo.
They could then see the faint summer fogs in layers, woolly, level, and apparently no thicker than counterpanes, spread about the meadows in detached remnants of small extent.
He thought of the winding white roads and the hedgerows, the green meadows with their elm-trees, the delicate line of the hills and the copses that crowned them, the flatness of the marshes, and the melancholy of the North Sea.
Sure enough, a dim path seemed to branch off from the road they were on, and it led across pretty green meadows and past leafy groves, straight toward the southwest.
I should be glad if all the meadows on the earth were left in a wild state, if that were the consequence of men's beginning to redeem themselves.
Konstantin Levin, whose presence was needed in the plough land and meadows, had come to take his brother in the trap.
As the English succeeded the French, and found a peculiarity of nature, differing from all they had yet seen on the continent, already distinguished by a word that did not express any thing in their own language, they left these natural meadows in possession of their title of convention.
Cept Mullins's Meadows,' observed the fat man solemnly.
At the far end of the meadow was the towering lilac hedge, skirting the lane that led to Judge Pillier's house, and the scent of its heavy blossoms met them like a soft and tender embrace of welcome.
The first place that I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it.