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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: OPTIMIZING FORAGE-BASED COW-CALF OPERATIONS TO IMPROVE SUSTAINABILITY OF BEEF CATTLE AGRICULTURE AND WATER QUALITY PROTECTION AND MANAGEMENT Title: Effect of flooding duration and nitrogen fertilization on yield and protein content of three forage species

Authors
item SIGUA, GILBERT
item Williams, M -
item Grabwoski, J -
item Chase, Chadwick
item Kongchum, M -

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 1, 2012
Publication Date: June 1, 2012
Citation: Sigua, G.C., Williams, M., Grabwoski, J., Chase, C., Kongchum, M. 2012. Effect of flooding duration and nitrogen fertilization on yield and protein content of three forage species. Agronomy Journal. 104:791-798.

Interpretive Summary: Natural flooding is one of the major factors affecting vegetation dynamics in many regions of the world. One of the most striking features of the Florida landscape is the presence of water, which historically has naturally covered much of the state at least part of the year. This flood-prone area could be detrimental for nearly all terrestrial plants and results in hampered growth and ultimately death of many plant species. Flooding can have catastrophic impacts on the productivity of arable farmland, grassland pastures, as most crops including forages are intolerant to excess water. Studies on the interactive effects of flooding and nitrogen fertilization on the productivity of grassland pastures have not been conducted in this region. The objectives of this greenhouse study were to determine the effect of flooding duration on dry matter yield and crude protein content of three Florida forage species (i.e., bahiagrass, limpograss, and maidencane) that are widely used in the Kissimmee River basin and other states in the Gulf Coast region; and to determine if detrimental impact of flooding can be mitigated by nitrogen (N) fertilization. In grasslands, waterlogging is frequently associated with other stresses, such as grazing may require specific and very different adaptive strategies and management. Results disclosed that yield varied significantly with flooding durations and levels of N fertilization. The overall yield response of the three forage species was linearly related to increasing levels of N fertilization. Averaged across forage species, yield of forages fertilized with 200 kg N/ha with no flooding were statistically comparable with plants that were fertilized with 200 kg N/ha and flooded for 84 days. Our results support our hypothesis that detrimental impact of flooding could be mitigated by N fertilization. Results will have significant impact in developing proper management of forage production in flood-prone areas of Florida and other Gulf States region.

Technical Abstract: The presence of water in most Florida landscapes could be detrimental for nearly all terrestrial plants and results in hampered growth and ultimately death of many plants including forage species. Studies on the interactive effects of flooding and nitrogen fertilization on the productivity of grassland pastures have not been conducted in this region. The objectives of this greenhouse study were to determine the effect of flooding duration on dry matter yield (DMY) and crude protein content (CPC) of three Florida forage species (i.e., bahiagrass, limpograss, and maidencane) that are widely used in the Kissimmee River basin and other states in the Gulf Coast region; and to determine if detrimental impact of flooding can be mitigated by nitrogen fertilization. Results disclosed that DMY and CPC varied significantly with flooding durations (P=0.001) and levels of N fertilization (P=0.001). Averaged across flooding duration and levels of N, limpograss had the greatest DMY of 11.6 ton ha-1 followed by maidencane (8.6 ton ha-1) and bahiagrass (8.5 ton ha-1) while bahiagrass had the highest CPC of 6.9% followed by maidencane (6.0%) and limpograss (3.7%). The overall yield response of the three forage species: bahiagrass (R2=0.95**); limpograss (R2=0.93**); and maidencane (R2=0.99**) were linearly related to increasing levels of N fertilization. Crude protein contents of three forage species: bahiagrass (R2=0.97**); limpograss (R2=0.99**); and maidencane (R2=0.87**) were also linearly related to increasing levels of nitrogen fertilization. Averaged across forage species, DMY of forages fertilized with 200 kg N ha-1 with no flooding were statistically comparable with plants that were fertilized with 200 kg N ha-1and flooded for 84 days. Our results support our hypothesis that detrimental impact of flooding could be mitigated by N fertilization.

Last Modified: 9/29/2014
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