Establishment of plantain into existing pastures
In recent years plantain (Plantago lanceolata) has emerged as a potential forage for reducing nitrogen losses from dairy farm systems. However, achieving sufficient proportions of plantain in pastures to help meet target reductions in nitrate leaching presents on-farm challenges. To investigate sowing methods for establishing plantain into existing pasture to achieve high plantain populations, direct drilling was compared with broadcasting before and after grazing. Additionally, pre-graze mowing versus grazing only, and early versus late first defoliation after sowing were investigated to assess their effect on reducing competition from existing pasture. Botanical composition was determined in a small-plot study at Lincoln following summer sowing under irrigation, and from commercial dairy farms in Canterbury (irrigated) and Waikato (not irrigated). Generally, direct drilling was more effective than broadcast sowing for establishing plantain. The method of defoliation after sowing (pre-graze mowing or grazing) was not as important as timing of early defoliation in the resulting plantain populations. Early grazing, while seedlings were small enough to avoid defoliation, improved plantain establishment likely by reducing competition from the pre-existing pasture.
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