Herbage Productivity and Botanical Composition of Hill Pasture as a Function of Clipping and Site Features
- David P. Belesky *,
- Charles M. Feldhake and
- Douglas G. Boyer
Complex topography and varied soil of hill-land pastures create microsite conditions that support an array of floristic associations and herbage production patterns. This complicates management for forage and livestock production because the seasonal distribution and quantity of forage vary. Our objective was to determine herbage production and floristic composition of a hill pasture as a function of site characteristics and canopy management. An existing 3-ha hill pasture watershed was oversown with white clover (Trifolium repens L.) and orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) and fertilized with reactive phosphate (PO4) rock (PR). Replicated plots on each of four sites were clipped once (stockpiled), twice (hay harvest), or three times (long rotation) annually. Site had a significant impact on cumulative herbage production, whereas the influence of clipping was mixed. The least (1.9 Mg ha−1) amount of herbage production in a given season occurred on a northeast (NE)-facing site and the greatest (4.6 Mg ha−1) in a natural drainage area (ND) traversing the pasture. Herbage production increased by about 80% with overseeding and PR, but the relative ranking of production among sites stayed the same. Botanical composition was also strongly influenced by site, with velvetgrass (Holcus lanatus L.) predominating in ND and red fescue (Festuca rubra L.) occurring primarily on the NE site. The stockpiled treatments became dominated by grasses and weeds 4 yr after treatments were imposed, regardless of site, and were similar to the least productive site (NE-facing) in the pasture. Our results suggest that application of amendments to the more productive portions of a site are likely to have greater return.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
Copyright © 2002. Published in Agron. J.94:351–358.