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Lincoln University (2009)

Water use efficiency of six dryland pastures in Canterbury

Tonmukayakul Nop

Titre : Water use efficiency of six dryland pastures in Canterbury

Auteur : Tonmukayakul Nop

Université de soutenance : Lincoln University

Grade : Master of Agricultural Science 2009

The annual and seasonal water use efficiency of six pasture combinations were calculated from the ‘MaxClover’ Grazing Experiment at Lincoln University. Pastures have been established for six years and are grazed by best management practices for each combination. Measurements for this study are from individual plots of four replicates of ryegrass (RG)/white clover (Wc), cocksfoot (CF)/Wc ; CF/balansa (Bal) clover ; CF/Caucasian (Cc) clover ; CF/subterranean (Sub) clover or lucerne. Water extraction measurements showed soils for all dryland pastures had a similar plant available water content of 280±19.8 mm. Dry matter measurements of yield, botanical composition and herbage quality were assessed from 1 July 2008 until 30 June 2009. Lucerne had the highest annual yield of 14260 kg DM/ha/y followed by the CF/Sub at 9390 kg DM/ha/y and the other grass based pastures at ≤ 6900 kg DM/ha/y. All pastures used about 670±24.4 mm/y of water for growth. Lucerne had the highest annual water use efficiency (WUE) of 21 kg DM/ha/mm/y of water used (total yield/total WU). The WUE of CF/Sub was the second highest at 15 kg DM/ha/mm/y, and the lowest was CF/Wc at 9 kg DM/ha/mm/y. The CF/Sub pastures had the highest total legume content of all grass based pastures at 21% and as a consequence had the highest annual nitrogen yield of 190 kg N/ha. This was lower than the monoculture of lucerne (470 kg N/ha). Ryegrass/white clover had the highest total weed component in all pastures of 61%. For dryland farmers spring is vital for animal production when soil temperatures are rising and moisture levels are high. The water use efficiency at this time is important to maximize pasture production. In spring lucerne produced 8730 kg DM/ha, which was the highest dry matter yield of all pastures. The CF/Sub produced the second highest yield of 6100 kg/DM/ha. When calculated against thermal time, CF/Sub grew 5.9 kg DM/ºCd compared with lucerne at 4.9 kg DM/ºCd. The higher DM yield from lucerne was from an extra 400 ºCd of growth. The highest seasonal WUE of all pastures occurred in the spring growing period. Linear regressions forced through the origin, showed lucerne (1/7/08-4/12/08) had a WUE of 30 kg DM/ha/mm (R2=0.98). Of the grass based pastures, CF/Sub produced 18 kg DM/ha/mm (R2=0.98) from 1/7 to 10/11/08 from 270 mm of water used. The lowest spring WUE was 13.5 kg DM/ha/mm by CF/Bal pastures which was comparable to the 14.3±1.42 kg DM/ha/mm WUE of CF/Wc, CF/Cc and RG/Wc pastures. During the spring, CF/Sub clover had the highest spring legume component of the grass based pastures at 42% and produced 120 kg N/ha. This was lower than the 288 kg N/ha from the monoculture of lucerne. Sub clover was the most successful clover which persisted with the cocksfoot. Based on the results from this study dryland farmers should be encouraged to maximize the potential of lucerne on farm, use cocksfoot as the main grass species for persistence, rather than perennial ryegrass, and use subterranean clover as the main legume species in cocksfoot based pastures. By increasing the proportion of legume grown the water use efficiency of a pasture can be improved. When pastures are nitrogen deficient the use of inorganic nitrogen may also improve pasture yields particularly in spring

Sujet : Dactylis glomerata L. ; Lolium perenne L. ; Medicago sativa L. ; Trifolium ambiguum L. ; white clover ; cocksfoot ; water use efficiency ; dryland pasture ; lucerne ; ryegrass ; Trifolium repens L. ; Trifolium michelianum L.


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