University of Tasmania
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Optimising grass seeding rates for improved establishment of perennial legumes in cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata) swards

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posted on 2023-05-27, 09:34 authored by Stevenson, K
The effect of grass seeding rate on legume establishment was investigated in the low rainfall region of the Tasmanian midlands. Three clover species, Caucasian clover, Talish clover and red clover were paired with one of two cocksfoot species, summer active cocksfoot or winter active cocksfoot, at three different grass seeding rates 1 kg/ha, 3 kg/ha and 5 kg/ha. Successful establishment was defined as the maintenance of a clover proportion of 20-45% in the sward, and was determined using plant number. Successful establishment of all three clover species was achieved for the 5 month duration of the experiment. Clover proportions within the recommended range were recorded when Talish clover or Caucasian clover was sown with either cocksfoot species at the grass seeding rate of 3 kg/ha. The same result was achieved when red clover was paired with either cocksfoot species at the grass seeding rate of 5 kg/ha. Sowing treatments that contained red clover produced a significantly (P<0.05) greater biomass, than sowing treatments that contained Talish clover or Caucasian clover. The results of a parallel experiment conducted in a glasshouse at the University of Tasmania, highlighted several key differences between the species in morphology and development rate. A faster rate of leaf emergence, larger leaf area and larger shoot length were observed on cocksfoot seedlings than observed on Talish clover and Caucasian clover seedlings. Red clover seedling were observed to develop secondary stems, this contributed to their greater biomass production and improved performance relative to that of the other clover species. Issues of poor establishment previously reported for slow growing clover species, such as Caucasian clover and Talish clover, were overcome by pairing these species with cocksfoot at a lowered grass seeding rate.


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