Grass-Legume Seed Mass Ratios and Nitrogen Rates Affect Forage Accumulation, Nutritive Value, and Profitability

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Crop Science, ISSN: 1435-0653, Vol: 57, Issue: 5, Page: 2852-2864

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Adjesiwor, Albert T.; Islam, M. Anowarul; Zheljazkov, Valtcho D.; Ritten, John P.; Garcia y Garcia, Axel
Crop Science Society of America
Agricultural and Biological Sciences
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article description
Grass-legume mixtures are considered viable alternatives to nitrogen (N)-fertilized grass pastures, but there is a dearth of information on effects of seed mass ratios on productivity and economic returns. We evaluated the effects of grass-legume seed mass ratios and N fertilizer rates on forage accumulation, nutritive value, and profitability. There were 15 treatments arranged in randomized complete blocks with four replicates. The treatments included four species (meadow bromegrass [Bromus biebersteinii Roem. & Schult] and three legumes— alfalfa [Medicago sativa L.], sainfoin [Onobrychis viciifolia Scop.], and birdsfoot trefoil [Lotus cor-niculatus L.]), various seed mass ratios (100:0, 50:50, 70:30, 50:25:25, and 50:16.7:16.7:16.7), and three rates of N (0, 56, and 112 kg N ha) applied only to meadow bromegrass monocul-tures. The 2-yr average annual forage accumulation of meadow bromegrass receiving 112 kg N hawas 6.89 Mg hayr, which was similar to the 30% alfalfa + 70% meadow bromegrass, 30% birdsfoot trefoil + 70% meadow bromegrass, 25% alfalfa + 25% birdsfoot trefoil + 50% meadow bromegrass, and 50:16.7:16.7:16.7 mixture treatments. Mixtures had greater nutritive value than N-fertilized meadow bromegrass. All treatments except 100% sainfoin and 50% sainfoin + 50% meadow bromegrass treatments were profitable. On the basis of forage accumulation, nutritive value, and profitability, the 30% alfalfa + 70% meadow bromegrass and 30% birdsfoot trefoil + 70% meadow bromegrass seed mass ratios are simple mixtures that may be viable alternatives to 100% alfalfa and N-fertilized meadow bromegrass monocultures.