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 ?
But do you know," she broke off, turning her quick eyes upon Madame Ratignolle and leaning forward a little so as to bring her face quite close to that of her companion, "sometimes I feel this summer as if I were walking through the green meadow again; idly, aimlessly, unthinking and unguided.
There were six young colts in the meadow besides me; they were older than I was; some were nearly as large as grown-up horses.
When the dawn came he was peering out with hungry eyes, getting glimpses of meadows and woods and rivers.
When I go out of the house for a walk, uncertain as yet whither I will bend my steps, and submit myself to my instinct to decide for me, I find, strange and whimsical as it may seem, that I finally and inevitably settle southwest, toward some particular wood or meadow or deserted pasture or hill in that direction.
There is no pleasanter place for such a meal than a raft that is gliding down the winding Neckar past green meadows and wooded hills, and slumbering villages, and craggy heights graced with crumbling towers and battlements.
Then she climbed a stile, went through a grassy meadow, slid under another pair of bars, and came out into the road again.
Its grey front stood out well from the background of a rookery, whose cawing tenants were now on the wing: they flew over the lawn and grounds to alight in a great meadow, from which these were separated by a sunk fence, and where an array of mighty old thorn trees, strong, knotty, and broad as oaks, at once explained the etymology of the mansion's designation.
We were busy with the hay in a far-away field, when the girl that usually brought our breakfasts came running an hour too soon across the meadow and up the lane, calling me as she ran.
I went and sat on the gate -- the gate in the meadow they call Pettit's Piece.
The meadow was searched in vain; and he got over the stile into the next field, looking with dying hope towards a small pond which was now reduced to its summer shallowness, so as to leave a wide margin of good adhesive mud.
On the verge of a wood, which approached to within a mile of the town of Ashby, was an extensive meadow, of the finest and most beautiful green turf, surrounded on one side by the forest, and fringed on the other by straggling oak-trees, some of which had grown to an immense size.
Tell me what you saw when you were trespassin' in the meadow.