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Regulating the content of white clover trifolium repens in mixed swards using grass suppressing herbicides



Regulating the content of white clover trifolium repens in mixed swards using grass suppressing herbicides



Grass & Forage Science 35(2): 129-138



A preliminary investigation evaluated 6 grass-suppressing herbicides applied on 2 occasions in late winter to a predominantly ryegrass ley containing 15% ground cover of white clover. Substantial increases in clover growth, estimated visually, and flower head numbers/unit area were recorded in the 1st summer after treatment with 2.8 kg ha-1 carbetamide, 0.8 kg ha-1 propyzamide and 0.6 kg ha-1 paraquat. To achieve these increases, visual estimates suggested that spring growth of grass was reduced by 40-80%. Grass growth recovered fully by mid-summer on the majority of the treatments. The following year 5 of the herbicides were compared in a field experiment. Dry matter (DM) and N assessments of the grass and legume components were made at 3 harvests in the 1st growing season and a single harvest in the 2nd yr. Carbetamide, paraquat and, especially, propyzamide increased the proportion of clover in the DM (to 89% in the case of 1.2 kg ha-1 propyzamide); using herbicides to raise clover contents above 20% lead to reduction in spring grass growth of about 70%. Such reduction was offset by subsequent increased growth so that total annual yields were largely unaffected. The increased legume content resulted in an increased N concentration in both grass and legume components, measured in the 2nd summer. At this time the greatest increase in total N yield (up to 35%) was recorded from 0.6 kg ha-1 propyzamide. Potential uses to achieve legume dominance by grass-suppression are suggested and the needs for further research are outlined.

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