Native forbs interseeded into native grass pastures persist under grazing

Jonathan D. Richwine, Patrick D. Keyser, John M. Zobel, Forbes R. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Incorporating native forbs within native warm-season grass (NWSG) pastures has the potential to benefit cattle, pollinators, and wildlife beyond that of NWSG monocultures. However, when grazing NWSG pastures, rotational stocking is recommended as opposed to continuous stocking. Therefore, to evaluate whether within-season rest is needed for native pasture sustainability, two NWSG grazing experiments were conducted near Greeneville, TN, 2017–2020, to assess the persistence of native forbs when an 11-species native forb blend was interseeded into established switchgrass (SG; Panicum virgatum L.) and big bluestem/indiangrass (BBIG; Andropogon gerardii Vitman and Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash) pastures. Each experiment was a completely randomized design with four replicates of each within-season rest grazing treatment (no rest, early rest, middle rest, late rest, and no graze). Within-season rest was not influential for NWSG tiller density or total forb plant density thus indicating persistence of forbs may not require rotational stocking. Purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea Vent.) did not establish while Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis (Michx.) MacMill. ex B.L. Rob. & Fernald) was only observed flowering once despite having the greatest seeding rate among forbs. Based on establishment and flowering of the 11 species in the current mixture, interseeding a 6-species polyculture of black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta L.), dixie ticktrefoil (Desmodium tortuosum (Sw.) DC.), eastern purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench), lanceleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata L.), Maximilian sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani Schrad.), and oxeye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet) could allow for plant biodiversity while offering floral resources for pollinators during the NWSG grazing season.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGrass and Forage Science
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • forage
  • persistence
  • polyculture
  • stocking
  • sustainability

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