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Managing the grass-legume balance in Stylosanthes scabra cv. Seca pastures in central Queensland

Orr, D.M. (2010) Managing the grass-legume balance in Stylosanthes scabra cv. Seca pastures in central Queensland. Tropical Grasslands, 44 . pp. 174-183.


Article URL: http://www.tropicalgrasslands.asn.au/Tropical%20Grasslands%20Journal%20archive/journal_archive.html
Publisher URL: http://www.tropicalgrasslands.asn.au/index.htm


The impacts of 4 grazing strategies (year-long grazing, summer grazing, winter grazing and winter grazing plus spring burning) on the grass:legume balance were studied between 2000 and 2006 in a pasture oversown with Stylosanthes scabra cv. Seca (Seca stylo) in central Queensland. Seasonal rainfall throughout the study was generally below average. Total pasture yields in autumn were higher in the 2 winter grazing than the 2 summer grazing treatments, largely reflecting the sampling time relative to when grazing occurred. There were few differences in Seca composition in autumn, although there was a clear trend for Seca composition to be reduced by winter grazing plus burning. Both the frequency of occurrence and plant density of Seca were higher under the 2 summer grazing treatments and there was also a trend for the density of juvenile plants (<5 cm height) to be higher in the 2 summer grazing treatments. Seca soil seed banks were generally low and were reduced in the winter grazing plus burning treatment in spring 2002. The frequency of the palatable perennial grass Pennisetum ciliaris (Biloela buffel grass) was reduced while that of the 'increaser' species Bothriochloa pertusa (Indian couch grass) and Stachytarpheta jamaicensis (snake weed) increased in the 2 summer grazing treatments compared with the 2 winter grazing treatments. Burning in spring increased soil loss in treatments grazed in winter. Differences in Seca frequency and density but not composition were explained by the 2 summer grazing treatments promoting 'gaps' in the pasture which were then colonised by Seca plants and other 'increaser' species. It was reasoned that, with time, mature Seca plants in the 2 winter grazing treatments would die so that Seca composition would eventually become higher under summer grazing regimes than under winter grazing. It was concluded that limiting grazing to particular seasons can alter legume:grass balance and that a time-frame of 5-8 years with average to good rainfall would be necessary to achieve large shifts in composition.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Additional Information:Reproduced with permission © Tropical Grassland Society of Australia.
Keywords:Botanical composition; burning; grassland management; grasslands; grazing; grazing systems; pastures; plant density; rain; seasonal variation; seed banks; yields; rainfall; seasonal changes; seasonal fluctuations; Queensland; Australia.
Subjects:Animal culture > Rangelands. Range management. Grazing
Science > Botany > Plant ecology
Live Archive:27 Sep 2011 03:42
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:48

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