Forage Production of a Tall Fescue Sod Intercropped with Sorghum ✕ Sudangrass and Rye
- D. P. Belesky,
- S. R. Wilkinson,
- R. N. Dawson and
- J. E. Elsner
A multispecies no-tillage system was designed to produce supplemental forage for year-round grazing while maintaining a viable tall fescue sod for erosion control. This system offers the potential to improve forage quantity and quality for low yielding tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) pastures in the South. Sorghum ✕ sudangrass hybrid, cv. ‘Pennington's summergrazer’ (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench ✕ Sorghum bicolor L. Moench) (SS hybrid), was seeded into tall fescue sod after the flush of spring growth, and rye (Secale cereale L.) seeded in early October after the end of the summer growing season for 3 consecutive years. Tall fescue sod kill treatments of no kill, 25, 50, and 100% of the surface area were obtained with 0.28 and 0.56 kg paraquat (1, 1'-dimethyl-4, 4'bipyridimium ion) per ha. Nine treatments were applied in a randomized block design replicated four times on Cecil sandy loam (Typic Hapludult, clayey, kaolinitic thermic). Phosphorus and K fertilizer was applied to satisfy soil test recommendations, while N fertilizer was applied in split applications across all treatments. Summer forage was harvested and separated by cutting height into tall fescue and SS hybrid, while winter yield was represented by tall fescue or tall fescue plus rye. The higher rate of paraquat gave no significant yield advantage to sod-seeded species at a given level of tall fescue sod control. A tall fescue sod monoculture yielded 7,405 kg dry matter/ha annually (3-year average). Inclusion of SS hybrid and rye in the tall fescue system with 50% sod kill increased total average forage yield to 11,115 kg/ha and improved distribution of yield over the year. Sorghum ✕ sudangrass hybrid accounted for 48%, (5,283 kg dry matter/ha) of the average yearly total yield for 50% sod kill. Yearly total forage yields were not significantly different far 50 and 100% levels of tall fescue sod kill seeded with both SS hybrid and rye.
Thus, it was feasible to increase and improve distribution of forage yield and provide species diversity, while maintaining tall fescue sod as an integral part of the system.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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