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Effect of fertilizer nitrogen on six year old red clover perennial grass swards



Effect of fertilizer nitrogen on six year old red clover perennial grass swards



Grass & Forage Science 42(2): 147-152



Three diploid red clover cultivars.sbd.Sabtoron, Violetta and Essex.sbd.and three tetraploids, Hungaropoly, Teroba and Red Head, were sown separately in pure culture and with each of three companion grasses: timothy (Aberystwyth S48), tall fescue (Aberystwyth S170) and perennial ryegrass (Aberystwyth S24). The effects of fertilizer N on yield and on clover/grass ratio over a 2-year period (seventh and eighth harvest years) subsequent to 6 harvest years during which no N fertilizer was applied were investigated. The data for productivity and persistence have already been published (McBratney, 1981; 1984). Application of fertilizer N increased DM yields in the eighth year. In this year, the highest yield, 11.9 t ha-1, averaged over the six clover cultivars, was given in association with tall fescue. Tall fescue contributed 90% of this yield. Clover content continued to decrease in all swards but the decrease was greatest in the swards receiving fertilizer N. The yield of clover DM averaged over the six cultivars under N treatment declined from 5.6 ha-1 in the seventh year to only 0.4 ha-1 in the eighth year. The results from this trial demonstrate the potential of red clover sown either pure or in mixture with a suitable perennial grass, to maintain high output of quality herbage over a 6-year period without the aid of fertilizer N. They further demonstrate that following decline in red clover content, both herbage yield and quality may be restored by the application of N fertilizer, particularly where the clover was seeded with a highly productive companion grass.

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