Robustness in the mineral supply from temporary grasslands

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Abstract:

The current study examined the capacity of different temporary grassland legume–grass mixtures under different N supply levels to supply similar amounts of elements in systems where the herbage is cut for feed. Mixtures showed a good robustness in supplying equal amounts of mineral elements in the combined herbage as well as equal concentrations in dry matter of mineral elements compared with the same species in monocultures. The reasons for the mixed systems to be able to buffer differences in N supply levels as well as different compositions of the mixtures were that legume leaves and stems had similar concentrations of mineral elements, whether in monocultures or in mixtures with grasses. Grasses in mixture with legumes had however higher N, Ca, S, Zn, Cu and tended to have higher Mg concentration, both in stems and leaves, while Mn were less concentrated in mixtures’ dry matter. Further, the mixtures doubled their dry matter accumulation in the two weeks just around grass heading. The systems partly buffered the time-wise differences in the sense that the P accumulation paralleled dry matter but the N was diluted. This was mirrored in a decrease in N concentration and maintenance of the concentration level of P and other elements. As the stem–leaf ratio was higher (p<0.05) in festulolium than in ryegrass and as the stems of festulolium have lower concentrations of N, K, Ca, S, Mg, Fe and Cu than leaves, the mixtures including festulolium had a rapidly declining proportion of these elements in the combined mixtures’ dry matter. Management options in improving the mineral supplies are thus to choose species when establishing the temporary grasslands according to functionality, to manipulate the content of legumes by the N supply level, and to time the harvest of the herbage.

Keywords: Concentration in plant organs; ecosystems services; elements; grasses; herbs; legumes; minerals; mixtures

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09064710.2011.577443

Affiliations: 1: Aarhus UniversityDepartment of Environmental Science, Frederiksborgvej 399Roskilde4000, Denmark 2: Aarhus University, Faculty of Agricultural SciencesResearch Center Foulum, Blichers Alle 20, Tjele8830, Denmark

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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