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Herbage and animal production from native pastures and pastures oversown with Stylosanthes hamata: 1. Fertiliser and stocking rate effects



Herbage and animal production from native pastures and pastures oversown with Stylosanthes hamata: 1. Fertiliser and stocking rate effects



Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 33(5): 561-570



Native pastures dominated by Heteropogon contortus (speargrass) were sown to Stylosanthes hamata cv. Verano in 1972, and herbage production and steer growth rates were compared with those of native pastures from 1973 to 1985. The native pastures also contained naturalised Stylosanthes humilis, but its contribution to pasture yield diminished rapidly, after infection by Colletotrichum gloeosporioides (anthracnose) in 1973. The experiment was a factorial design of 2 pasture types (native, native plus Verano) times 2 stocking rates (0.6, 1.2 steers/ha) times 2 superphosphate treatments (nil, 300 kg/ha.year) times 2 replicates. Fertiliser application decreased the proportion of legume but had no significant effect on herbage or animal production on this comparatively fertile site (extractable P, 18 mg/kg). Annual liveweight gains at the high and low stocking rates, respectively, on the native pasture averaged 100 and 120 kg/steer. Sowing to Verano did not affect herbage yields but increased annual liveweight gains by 28 and 36 kg/steer at low and high stocking rates. The high stocking rate of 1.2 steers/ha was sustainable for the first 9 years of the experiment, when above-average rainfall was received. However, in the following 3 below-average years, there was a shift to less-desirable species, and a decline in pasture productivity. Relative to the low stocking rate, herbage production on the native pasture in the final season was reduced by 60% and on the Verano pasture by 26%. The highest annual herbage utilisation rate that appeared sustainable in the long term was about 45%, which corresponded to a utilisation rate of 30% during the growing season (about November-May). When oversown with Verano, speargrass tended to decline in favour of annual grasses, weeds, and the introduced crass Urochloa mosambicensis, which had been sown on an adjacent experiment. Urochloa appeared to be a more suitable companion species than speargrass for Verano.

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Accession: 008766717

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DOI: 10.1071/ea9930561


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