Effect of cultivar and seed rate of perennial ryegrass and strategic fertilizer nitrogen on the productivity of grass/white clover swards


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Four cultivars of perennial ryegrass (intermediate diploid cv. Talbot and tetraploid cv. Barlatra, and late diploid cv. Parcour and tetraploid cv. Petra) were each sown at 10,20 and 30 kg ha‐1, all with 3 kg ha‐1 of white clover cv. Donna. Herbage productivity was measured over 3 harvest years, 1982–84. under two annual rates of fertilizer N (0 and 150 kg ha‐1); the 150 kg ha‐1 rate was split equally between March and August applications. Fertilizer N increased total herbage DM production; the 3‐year means for the 0 and 150 kg ha‐1 N rates were 8·04 and 8·91 t ha‐1, respectively. In successive years, total herbage responses to N (kg DM (kg N applied)‐1) were 6·6, 35 and 72 (overall mean, 58). Mean white clover DM production over the 3 years was reduced from 4·48 t ha‐1 at nil N to 2·82 t ha‐1 at the 150 kg ha‐1 rate, a fall of 37%. Grass seed rate did not influence total herbage production or white clover performance. The two intermediate perennial ryegrass cultivars had a marginal advantage in total herbage production over the two late cultivars, but white clover content and production were higher with tetraploids than diploids. It is concluded that the value of increased herbage production from strategic use of fertilizer N has to be weighed against its depressive effect on white clover performance; application of 75 kg ha ha‐1 N in both spring and autumn was excessively high if maintenance of a good white clover content in the sward is an objective. There is considerable flexibility in the grass: clover seed ratio in seeds mixtures. Modern highly‐productive perennial ryegrass varieties do not differ substantially in compatibility with white clover but tetraploids permit better clover performance than diploids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-366
Number of pages8
JournalGrass and Forage Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPrint publication - Dec 1986


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