Comparison of a herbal ley with a ryegrass-white clover pasture and pure ryegrass sward receiving fertiliser nitrogen

Ruiz Jerez, B.E.; Ball, P.R.; White, R.E.; Gregg, P.E.H.

Proceedings of the New Zealand Grassland Association 53(215-219): 225-230


Accession: 002328050

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Herbal ley was compared with a conventional pasture (Lolium perenne-Trifolium repens) and a more intensive system (pure L. perenne receiving 400 kg fertilizer N/ha year) in a study lasting 2 years. The herbal ley seeds mixture included a group of 'non-aggressive' grasses, forage legumes and forbs. Pasture production (average of 2 years) from herbal ley was 15 t DM/ha year, representing approximately 90% of the yield from the intensively managed pure L. perenne pasture receiving 400 kg N/ha year and some 25-30% more than from L. perenne-T. repens. A major feature of the herbal ley was substantial production during late spring and summer, when chicory Cichorium intybus (the most dominant forb), and Trifolium pratense and T. repens made a major contribution to herbage yield. In winter the total yield was similar to that from the L. perenne-T. repens pasture. Legume content was 23 and 31% (averaged over the year) for L. perenne-T. repens and herbal ley pastures respectively. In spite of this difference, symbiotic N fixation was similar; fixation efficiency on a legume yield basis was 50.3 and 31.6 kg N fixed/t legume DM harvested, respectively. These results could reflect a different pattern of utilization of soil N, as a consequence of the different botanical composition of the swards. It is concluded that the performance of the herbal ley offers the promise of an alternative, 'specialist' pasture and would be highly beneficial if quality feed is required in summer.