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The role of tillage, fertiliser and forage species in sustaining dairying based on crops in southern Queensland 1. Winter-dominant forage systems.

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Chataway, R.G., Orr, W.N., Cooper, J.E. and Cowan, R.T. (2011) The role of tillage, fertiliser and forage species in sustaining dairying based on crops in southern Queensland 1. Winter-dominant forage systems. Animal Production Science, 51 (10). pp. 890-903.


Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/an11028

Publisher URL: http://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/72.htm


Field studies were conducted over 5 years on two dairy farms in southern Queensland to evaluate the impacts of zero-tillage, nitrogen (N) fertiliser and legumes on a winter-dominant forage system based on raingrown oats. Oats was able to be successfully established using zero-tillage methods, with no yield penalties and potential benefits in stubble retention over the summer fallow. N fertiliser, applied at above industry-standard rates (140 vs. 55 kg/ha.crop) in the first 3 years, increased forage N concentration significantly and had residual effects on soil nitrate-N at both sites. At one site, crop yield was increased by 10 kg DM/ha. kg fertiliser N applied above industry-standard rates. The difference between sites in fertiliser response reflected contrasting soil and fertiliser history. There was no evidence that modifications to oats cropping practices (zero-tillage and increased N fertiliser) increased surface soil organic carbon (0-10 cm) in the time frame of the present study. When oats was substituted with annual legumes, there were benefits in improved forage N content of the oat crop immediately following, but legume yield was significantly inferior to oats. In contrast, the perennial legume Medicago sativa was competitive in biomass production and forage quality with oats at both sites and increased soil nitrate-N levels following termination. However, its contribution to winter forage was low at 10% of total production, compared with 40% for oats, and soil water reserves were significantly reduced at one site, which had an impact on the following oat production. The study demonstrated that productive grazed oat crops can be grown using zero tillage and that increased N fertiliser is more consistent in its effect on N concentration than on forage yield. A lucerne ley provides a strategy for raising soil nitrate-N concentration and increasing overall forage productivity, although winter forage production is reduced.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Additional Information:© The State of Queensland 2011.
Keywords:Biomass production; carbon; cattle feeding; cows; crop yield; cropping systems; dairy cattle; dairy farming; fertilizers; fodder legumes; forage; grazing; lucerne; oats; residues; soil chemistry; tillage; winter; alfalfa; feed legumes; pasturing; soil cultivation.
Subjects:Animal culture > Cattle
Plant culture > Field crops
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Soils. Soil science
Live Archive:27 Mar 2012 06:43
Last Modified:20 Mar 2024 05:08

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