Plant diversity with species drilled in the same or alternate rows enhanced pasture yield and quality over 4 years


  • Alistair Black Lincoln University
  • Thinzar Myint Lincoln University
  • Arulmageswaran Shampasivam Lincoln University
  • Shuo Yang Lincoln University



complementarity, interspecific interactions, multi-species, sowing method


This paper reports on the effects of plant species diversity and sowing method on pasture yield and quality. Nineteen seed mixtures of perennial ryegrass (PR), plantain (Pl), white clover (WC) and red clover (RC) were sown on 26 March 2015 at Lincoln University. Four mixtures of PR, Pl and WC were repeated with species separated in alternate drill rows. Plots were grazed by sheep and irrigated. After 4 years, a mixture with 25% of each species based on seed count – equivalent to 7.5 kg PR, 5.6 kg Pl, 1.9 kg WC and 4.4 kg RC (19.4 kg total seed)/ha – produced an optimal balance of increased total yield (17.44 t DM/ha/yr), weed suppression (0% of total yield), metabolisable energy (11.4 MJ/kg DM) and crude protein (19% of DM). Sowing method had no effect. Plant diversity enhanced pasture production through positive interactions and identity effects among the legumes (WC and RC) and non-legumes (PR and Pl). The strength of interactions between species depended on the identity and relative abundances of the species involved. The diversity effects occurred alongside shifts in species relative abundances over time. This study demonstrated an experimental basis for the evaluation of multi-species pasture mixtures.






Resilient Pastures Symposium 2021