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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Competition and Combining Ability Effects of Cool-Season Legumes and Grasses

Authors
item Springer, Timothy
item Aiken, Glen
item Pittman, Roy
item Mcnew, R - UNIV OF ARKANSAS

Submitted to: Symposum Crop Science Society Of America
Publication Type: Government Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 1996
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The addition of legumes to perennial pasture systems can increase the total available forage, forage quality, and reduce the use of nitrogen fertilization. In the USA, the lack of persistence of forage legumes is a major concern and a lack of legume competitiveness with grasses has been listed among the major problems. Tall fescue is the predominant cool- season forage grown in the USA and it is estimated that 80% is infected with a mutualistic fungal endophyte. One method to increase pasture forage production is to select complimentary species. Limited information is available on interactions among plant species in pasture environments. Our objectives were to evaluate the competition and combining ability effects of cool-season legumes and grasses grown under simulated pasture conditions. The species used were 'Ladino' white clover, 'Kenland' red clover, 'Fergus' birdsfoot trefoil, 'Kentucky-31' endophyte-free and -infected tall fescue, and 'Martin' tall fescue. Initial results indicate that white clover and tall fescue were compatible with each other. Red clover was found to compete with Martin tall fescue, and was incompatible with endophyte-free or endophyte-infected Kentucky-31 tall fescue. Birdsfoot trefoil was incompatible with tall fescue.

Technical Abstract: Forage legumes provide a renewable resource of nitrogen for plant growth as well as quality forage for grazing livestock. One method to enhance pasture forage production is to select complimentary species. Mixtures of legumes and grasses may be compatible, compete, or interact with each other. Our objectives were to evaluate the competition and combining ability effects of cool-season legumes and grasses grown in 1:1 mixtures in the field. The species used were 'Ladino' white clover, 'Kenland' red clover, 'Fergus' birdsfoot trefoil, 'Kentucky-31' endophyte-free and -infected tall fescue, and 'Martin' tall fescue. Initial results indicate that white clover and tall fescue were compatible with each other (relative yield totals, RYT>1.0). Red clover competed with Martin tall fescue (RYT=1.0), and was incompatible with endophyte-free or -infected Kentucky-31 tall fescue (RYT<1.0). Similarly, birdsfoot trefoil was incompatible with tall fescue (RYT<1.0). A positive general combining ability (GCA=415 kg/ha, P<0.05) was found for white clover and a negative GCA (-462 kg/ha, P<0.05) for birdsfoot trefoil. Corroborating the RYT data, negative specific combining abilities were found for red clover mixed with either endophyte-free (-982 kg/ha, P<0.05) or endophyte- infected Kentucky-31 tall fescue (-1646 kg/ha, P<0.05).

Last Modified: 12/20/2014
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