Grass-legume seed mass ratios and nitrogen rates affect forage accumulation, nutritive value, and profitability

Albert T. Adjesiwor, M. Anowarul Islam, Valtcho D. Zheljazkov, John P. Ritten, Axel Garcia y Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Grass-legume mixtures are considered viable alternatives to nitrogen (N)-fertilized grass pastures, but there is a dearth of information on effects of seed mass ratios on productivity and economic returns. We evaluated the effects of grass-legume seed mass ratios and N fertilizer rates on forage accumulation, nutritive value, and profitability. There were 15 treatments arranged in randomized complete blocks with four replicates. The treatments included four species (meadow bromegrass [Bromus biebersteinii Roem. & Schult] and three legumes— alfalfa [Medicago sativa L.], sainfoin [Onobrychis viciifolia Scop.], and birdsfoot trefoil [Lotus cor-niculatus L.]), various seed mass ratios (100:0, 50:50, 70:30, 50:25:25, and 50:16.7:16.7:16.7), and three rates of N (0, 56, and 112 kg N ha−1) applied only to meadow bromegrass monocul-tures. The 2-yr average annual forage accumulation of meadow bromegrass receiving 112 kg N ha−1 was 6.89 Mg ha−1 yr−1, which was similar to the 30% alfalfa + 70% meadow bromegrass, 30% birdsfoot trefoil + 70% meadow bromegrass, 25% alfalfa + 25% birdsfoot trefoil + 50% meadow bromegrass, and 50:16.7:16.7:16.7 mixture treatments. Mixtures had greater nutritive value than N-fertilized meadow bromegrass. All treatments except 100% sainfoin and 50% sainfoin + 50% meadow bromegrass treatments were profitable. On the basis of forage accumulation, nutritive value, and profitability, the 30% alfalfa + 70% meadow bromegrass and 30% birdsfoot trefoil + 70% meadow bromegrass seed mass ratios are simple mixtures that may be viable alternatives to 100% alfalfa and N-fertilized meadow bromegrass monocultures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2852-2864
Number of pages13
JournalCrop Science
Volume57
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

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