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Graze to grain - measuring and modelling the effects of grazed pasture leys on soil nitrogen and sorghum yield on a Vertosol soil in the Australian subtropics

Whitbread, A.M. and Clem, R.L. (2006) Graze to grain - measuring and modelling the effects of grazed pasture leys on soil nitrogen and sorghum yield on a Vertosol soil in the Australian subtropics. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 57 (5). pp. 489-500.

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Article Link(s): http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AR05189

Abstract

Highly productive sown pasture systems can result in high growth rates of beef cattle and lead to increases in soil nitrogen and the production of subsequent crops. The nitrogen dynamics and growth of grain sorghum following grazed annual legume leys or a grass pasture were investigated in a no-till system in the South Burnett district of Queensland. Two years of the tropical legumes Macrotyloma daltonii and Vigna trilobata (both self regenerating annual legumes) and Lablab purpureus (a resown annual legume) resulted in soil nitrate N (0-0.9 m depth), at sorghum sowing, ranging from 35 to 86 kg/ha compared with 4 kg/ha after pure grass pastures. Average grain sorghum production in the 4 cropping seasons following the grazed legume leys ranged from 2651 to 4012 kg/ha. Following the grass pasture, grain sorghum production in the first and second year was < 1900 kg/ha and by the third year grain yield was comparable to the legume systems. Simulation studies utilising the farming systems model APSIM indicated that the soil N and water dynamics following 2-year ley phases could be closely represented over 4 years and the prediction of sorghum growth during this time was reasonable. In simulated unfertilised sorghum crops grown from 1954 to 2004, grain yield did not exceed 1500 kg/ha in 50% of seasons following a grass pasture, while following 2-year legume leys, grain exceeded 3000 kg/ha in 80% of seasons. It was concluded that mixed farming systems that utilise short term legume-based pastures for beef production in rotation with crop production enterprises can be highly productive.

Item Type:Article
Corporate Creators:Animal Science
Additional Information:Reproduced with permission from © CSIRO Publishing. Access to published version may be available via Publisher’s website.
Keywords:Ley legumes; APSIM; modelling; simulation; mixed farming systems; opportunity cropping systems; southern inland Queensland; clay soils; semiarid tropics; farming systems; legumes; carbon; crops; water.
Subjects:Plant culture > Field crops > Grain. Cereals
Animal culture > Rangelands. Range management. Grazing
Science > Statistics > Simulation modelling
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Soils. Soil science
Deposited On:02 Feb 2009 01:08
Last Modified:22 Nov 2010 00:25

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