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The performance of irrigated mixtures of tall fescue, ryegrass and white clover in subtropical Australia. 1. The effects of sowing mixture combinations, nitrogen and oversowing on establishment, productivity, botanical composition and persistence.

Lowe, K.F. and Callow, M.N. and Bowdler, T.M. and Lowe, S.A. and White, J.A. and Gobius, N. (2009) The performance of irrigated mixtures of tall fescue, ryegrass and white clover in subtropical Australia. 1. The effects of sowing mixture combinations, nitrogen and oversowing on establishment, productivity, botanical composition and persistence. Tropical Grasslands, 43 (1). pp. 4-23.

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Organisation URL: http://www.tropicalgrasslands.asn.au

Abstract

In the subtropics of Australia, the ryegrass component of irrigated perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) - white clover (Trifolium repens) pastures declines by approximately 40% in the summer following establishment, being replaced by summer-active C4 grasses. Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) is more persistent than perennial ryegrass and might resist this invasion, although tall fescue does not compete vigorously as a seedling. This series of experiments investigated the influence of ryegrass and tall fescue genotype, sowing time and sowing mixture as a means of improving tall fescue establishment and the productivity and persistence of tall fescue, ryegrass and white clover-based mixtures in a subtropical environment.

Tall fescue frequency at the end of the establishment year decreased as the number of companion species sown in the mixture increased. Neither sowing mixture combinations nor sowing rates influenced overall pasture yield (of around 14 t/ha) in the establishment year but had a significant effect on botanical composition and component yields. Perennial ryegrass was less competitive than short-rotation ryegrass, increasing first-year yields of tall fescue by 40% in one experiment and by 10% in another but total yield was unaffected. The higher establishment-year yield (3.5 t/ha) allowed Dovey tall fescue to compete more successfully with the remaining pasture components than Vulcan (1.4 t/ha). Sowing 2 ryegrass cultivars in the mixture reduced tall fescue yields by 30% compared with a single ryegrass (1.6 t/ha), although tall fescue alone achieved higher yields (7.1 t/ha). Component sowing rate had little influence on composition or yield. Oversowing the ryegrass component into a 6-week-old sward of tall fescue and white clover improved tall fescue, white clover and overall yields in the establishment year by 83, 17 and 11%, respectively, but reduced ryegrass yields by 40%. The inclusion of red (T. pratense) and Persian (T. resupinatum) clovers and chicory (Cichorium intybus) increased first-year yields by 25% but suppressed perennial grass and clover components.

Yields were generally maintained at around 12 t/ha/yr in the second and third years, with tall fescue becoming dominant in all 3 experiments. The lower tall fescue seeding rate used in the first experiment resulted in tall fescue dominance in the second year following establishment, whereas in Experiments 2 and 3 dominance occurred by the end of the first year. Invasion by the C4 grasses was relatively minor (<10%) even in the third year. As ryegrass plants died, tall fescue and, to a lesser extent, white clover increased as a proportion of the total sward. Treatment effects continued into the second, but rarely the third, year and mostly affected the yield of one of the components rather than total cumulative yield. Once tall fescue became dominant, it was difficult to re-introduce other pasture components, even following removal of foliage and moderate renovation. Severe renovation (reducing the tall fescue population by at least 30%) seems a possible option for redressing this situation.

Item Type:Article
Corporate Creators:QPIF, DEEDI
Additional Information:© Tropical Grassland Society of Australia, Inc.
Keywords:Botanical composition; establishment; irrigated conditions; nitrogen; oversowing; persistence; productivity; sowing; sowing rates; Festuca arundinacea; Lolium perenne; Trifolium repens.
Subjects:Animal culture > Rangelands. Range management. Grazing
Plant culture > Field crops > Forage crops. Feed crops
Deposited On:16 Sep 2010 04:40
Last Modified:18 Nov 2010 23:47

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