From dense swards to biodiverse roughs


To realise the potential of golf courses to support biodiversity and ecological functions, this project aims to establish knowledge on how to use cutting regimes, soil amendments, seed addition and hemiparasitic plants to reduce grass dominance and improve biodiversity on roughs. A field experiment was established at Oslo GK and demonstrations at Sigtuna GK and Herning GK, in parallel with similar plots in agricultural and urban settings in 2017. In total, eight locations were included.  

Six treatment combinations were started in 2017 and local wildflower mixtures sown in autumn 2018.Baseline data on vegetation, pollinators and soil characteristics were collected during 2017 and 2018. These revealed a reasonable range of bumblebee and solidary bee species at the experimental locations, but only few individuals. Honeybees were by far the most frequent pollinator species. Botanical assessment showed that the original vegetation was species-poor and dominated by common grasses. A test of the relationship between standing vegetation biomass and playability was run at Oslo GK. Information about the project and these results are available in a video - see below!
Outdoor information boards are in place at Herning and Oslo, and in progress at Sigtuna.

So far, the results show that both removal of cut material and addition of sawdust gave a wanted reduction in grass biomass at most locations. Establishment of Rhinanthus was Preparing for early cut Oslo GK , June 1 2018.highly variable and low. At some locations, the dry summer also gave high mortality of this species. One year after seeding, Rhinanthus had no major effect on grass biomass. In the second half of August 2018, plots were cut, hard-raked and seeded with a mixture of 18 wildflower species common in mesic to dry grasslands, at a total rate of 1 gm-2. Observations during late autumn showed beginning establishment of some of these species.

At Sigtuna, summer 2018 was very dry, which restricted plant growth and flowering. No Rhinanthus survived and degradation of sawdust was hampered. Ten species were sown as planned. At Herning,  there was some deviation from cutting protocol and no establishment of Rhinanthus was observed. Plots were sown with 21 species. Recording of vegetation and pollinators has been delayed due to lack of expert personnel. Experimental plots with a design similar to those at Oslo GK were established in 2018 at Munich GC, with one year delay compared with the Scandinavian plots. 

Golfbaner kan ha en viktig rolle i å fremme biologisk mangfold og økologiske funksjoner i landskapet. Mange golfbaner har imidlertid produktiv jord. Et av de viktigste tiltakene for å etablere mangfoldig vegetasjon og skaffe ressurser for pollinatorer er å redusere produktiviteten. Målet for prosjektet er å skaffe kunnskap om hvordan slåtteregime, tilsetninger av karbon i jord, såing av blomsterengfrø, og såing av halvparasittiske planter kan brukes til å redusere konkurransen fra gress og øke det biologiske mangfoldet i rough. Forsøk vil bli gjennomført hos Oslo GK og demonstrasjonsfelt etablert hos Herning GK og Sigtuna GK (2017 -2020). Lokale frøblandinger vil bli sådd, og utvikling av botanisk sammensetning og forekomst av pollinatorer fulgt for de ulike behandlingene. Kunnskapen om de metodene vil hjelpe golfklubber med å ta gode valg for å fremme biologisk mangfold og god spillekvalitet. Resultatene vil bli presentert gjennom feltdager, populærartikler, en informasjonsvideo og en vitenskapelig artikkel.


Hans Martin Hanslin

Hans Martin Hanslin, The Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO), Department of Urban Greening and Environmental Engineering, Særheim Research Centre, Postvn. 213, N-4353 Klepp St., Tel: + 47 90 50 12 79. E-mail:

Category: Multifunctional golf facilities
Status: Ongoing
Project period: 2017-2020

Fundings (kSEK)

  2017 2018 2019 2020 Total
STERF 175 200 200 200 775
Other 1002 1021 1085 1196 4304
Total 1177 1221 1285 1396 5079



The aim is to provide knowledge of management strategies to enhance diversity of flowering plants and pollinators in roughs to be used in further development of multifunctional golf courses.

Specific objectives are

  • To study specific effects of sward cutting frequency, biomass removal and soil carbon addition on rough productivity and establishment of seeded target species.
  • To critically test the use of hemiparasitic Rhinanthus minor as a method to diversify roughs.
  • To assess whether cutting combined with temporal nitrogen immobilisation by incorporating carbon sources in soil improves establishment of seeded species relative to cutting only.
  • To quantify the effects of diversification measures on pollinator visiting rates and composition of the pollinator community, and relate these to the provision of resources for pollinators.
  • To evaluate how management treatments have filtering effects on sown species depending on their specific germination and establishment traits.
  • To explore the effect of management regimes on the playability of the roughs


Short video, talking about how to use cutting regimes, soil amendments, seed addition and hemiparasitic plants to reduce grass dominance and improve biodiversity in your roughs.