The effect of tractor wheel passes on herbage production from diploid and tetraploid ryegrass swards

J. Frame*, D. W. Merrilees

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Diploid and tetraploid perennial ryegrass swards were managed under an intensive silage system over 3 years. The swards were subjected to hive tractor wheel pass treatments to simulate combinations of silage operations in the field from cutting, tedding, lifting and fertilizing. Wheel tracking was applied uniformly over the swards after June, July, August and October cuts each year. Tractor wheel passes caused mean reductions in herbage dry matter (DM) yield during successive years of 14%, 6% and 9% compared with their absence, and frequent or delayed wheel passes affected yield more adversely than infrequent or undelayed wheel passes. Nitrogen and mineral concentrations in herbage and nutrient offtakes were also generally reduced but organic matter digestibility (OMD) was unaffected. Soil assessments each autumn showed that soil bulk density increased in the wheel-pass treatments, particularly when frequently applied. The two sward types responded in a similar manner to the wheel-tracking treatments, probably because they bad similar cushioning capability, the disadvantage of the tetraploid in terms of fewer tillers in relation to the diploid being compensated for by larger tiller size. Soil compaction, with its adverse effect on sward growth vigour, and direct wheel damage to young regrowth will be lessened by minimizing wheel traffic on silage swards and undertaking operations over short rather than long periods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
JournalGrass and Forage Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPrint publication - Mar 1996


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