Productivity of rotationally grazed simple and diverse pasture mixtures under irrigation in Canterbury


  • F. Nobilly
  • R.H. Bryant
  • B.A. Mckenzie
  • G.R. Edwards



Herbage dry matter (DM) production, botanical composition and nutritive value were compared over 2 years under irrigation and dairy cow grazing for simple two-species grass (perennial ryegrass or tall fescue)- white clover pastures and diverse pastures where herbs (chicory and plantain), legumes (red clover and lucerne) and prairie grass were added to the simple mixtures. Averaged over 2 years, annual herbage DM production was 1.62 t DM/ha greater in diverse (16.77 t DM/ ha) than simple (15.15 t DM/ha) pastures, primarily reflecting greater DM production in summer. Diverse pastures had lower metabolisable energy (ME) (12.0 vs 12.2 MJ ME/kg DM) and neutral detergent fibre (301 vs 368 g/kg DM) content than simple pastures, although the total ME produced per year was greater in diverse than simple pastures (202 vs 185 GJ ME/ha). Ryegrassbased pastures had higher annual DM production than tall fescue-based pastures in the first but not second year. The results indicate that including additional legumes and herbs with simple grass-white clover pastures may increase total DM and ME production of dairy pastures under irrigation. Keywords: Lolium perenne L., Festuca arundinacea, herbs, legumes, pasture mixtures, diversity, nutritive value







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