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ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #36233


item Fedders, James
item Belesky, David

Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/17/1994
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The hill-lands of Appalachia are well suited to animal production on pasture. Grass and clover mixtures can provide a balance of nutrients to meet the nutritional requirements of grazing animals. Improved versions of traditional pasture plants such as orchardgrass and white clover may better meet the needs of grazing animals. We designed and conducted an experiment to determine the influence of various clipping regimes on the balance of grass and clover using improved plant materials. For example, we found that overall productivity of a plant community was not influenced by orchardgrass line. However, we did discover that white clover productivity influenced total plant community productivity differences. Our findings indicate the importance of white clover in regulating overall pasture productivity. We also show that the white clover line is equally important in terms of productivity. This information should lead to improved pasture productivity and animal production efficiency.

Technical Abstract: Grass-legume mixtures are the mainstay of many productive pasture systems, providing high quality forage without N fertilizer inputs. We designed an experiment to compare the productivity of orchardgrass-white clover swards under hay management and more frequent clippings that were based on canopy height criteria. Plots were established in 1993 and were sown with one cultivar each of orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L. 'Benchmark' or 'Wana') and white clover (Trifolium repens L. 'Haifa', 'Huia', or 'Milkanova') for a total of six grass-clover combinations. Cumulative yield of the hay treatment (8692 lb/ac) was not significantly higher than that from plots cut to a 2-inch residue each time an 8-inch canopy height was attained. Plots managed to remove half of the canopy height at each defoliation, i.e., 8-inch height/4-inch residue and 4-inch height/2-inch residue, produced significantly less forage. Even though Benchmark was more productive than Wana, compensatory changes in the white clover and weed components of the sward resulted in no significant differences in total cumulative yield attributable to orchardgrass cultivar. Conversely, differences in white clover productivity were reflected in differences in total yield as plots containing Haifa averaged 20 percent less dry matter production than plots containing the other white clover cultivars.