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Advanced analysis of dry-weight-rank data to discriminate direct and indirect interactions between white clover and grasses in a multi-species pasture under a range of management strategies

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Infestations of pastures by species, such as creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera), may compromise the white clover (Trifolium repens) content in perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) mixtures. However, the interactions between white clover and species other than perennial ryegrass are not well understood. Strategies to prevent creeping bentgrass infestations require an understanding of its interactions with white clover, as the exclusion of white clover from infested pastures could be the result of either direct interaction or niche-differentiation in response to management. A methodology is presented which enables the segregation of the effects of direct interaction and niche-differentiation, based on existing dry-weight-rank measurements of a number of experimental pastures, subjected to a range of management strategies.

Only between the two management extremities, i.e. permanent cutting of silage and lax grazing for long periods, did niche-differentiation occur between white clover and creeping bentgrass. The white clover content was enhanced under the cutting regime, whereas lax grazing for long periods stimulated the content of creeping bentgrass. White clover was actively excluded from creeping-bentgrass-dominated patches by direct interaction, whereas it showed a high compatibility with perennial ryegrass. This direct interaction presents challenges to the prevention of creeping bentgrass by management, as creeping bentgrass and white clover showed nearly identical requirements in terms of environmental conditions and grassland management.
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Keywords: Agrostis stolonifera; Lolium perenne; Trifolium repens; competition; dry-weight-rank method; niche-differentiation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Plant Sciences, Wageningen University, Binnenhaven 12, 6709 PD, Wageningen, the Netherlands

Publication date: 01 June 2002

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