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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Chicory As a Component of Mixed Species Canopies: Response to Nitrogen and Canopy Management

Authors
item Belesky, David
item Fedders, James
item Turner, Kenneth

Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: November 21, 1994
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Species diversity contributes to stability in pasture systems and can sustain a reliable supply of herbage available for grazing animal consumption. In addition, various plants have the potential to improve nutritive quality through greater amounts of protein or mineral concentrations. Deep-rooted, leafy plants like chicory can tolerate dry conditions that may restrict productivity of plants like clovers and some grasses. Deep-rooted, leafy species also may contain more protein and minerals and can improve the nutritive balance of herbage available for grazing animals. Very little is known about the management and production capability of chicory. We found that chicory grew well in and persisted as a component of mixtures including grasses and clover-like plants. Chicory was also very responsive to nitrogen fertilizer and may serve as a "biological sponge" for sites on which animal wastes are applied. While chicory has been considered a weed in row crop situations, it appears to be a valuable addition to the plant material options available to pasture managers.

Technical Abstract: Species diversity in the pasture plant community should contribute to stable, season-long production. Inclusion of leafy forbs such as chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) could enhance herbage production as well as mineral composition and nutritive quality as well. The production characteristics of chicory in pure stands and mixtures are not clearly defined. A series of experiments were conducted to characterize the productivity of chicory in pure and mixed stands and to develop N response data for shallow soil of moderate fertility. Mixtures included orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) and birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.) cut at three- and six-week intervals. Canopies clipped at six-week intervals produced 27% more forage than those clipped at three-week intervals, regardless of species composition. Mixtures containing trefoil produced slight, although not significantly, more forage than either pure or chicory/orchardgrass mixes in the first cropping year. Nitrogen concentrations were greater in mixtures containing trefoil than in pure stands of chicory. Nitrogen was applied to pure stands of chicory in increments up to 424 lb N/ac. A strong linear response to N suggests that chicory could be used as a disposal site for animal wastes to minimize nutrient loss to groundwater and runoff.

Last Modified: 9/20/2014
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