Herbage and nitrogen yields, fixation and transfer by white clover to companion grasses in grazed swards under different rates of nitrogen fertilization

D. Enriquez-Hidalgo*, T. J. Gilliland, D. Hennessy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In grass–legume swards, biologically fixed nitrogen (N) from the legume can support the N requirements of the grass, but legume N fixation is suppressed by additional fertilizer N application. This study sought to identify a fertilizer N application rate that maximizes herbage and N yields, N fixation and apparent N transfer from white clover to companion grasses under intensive grazing at a site with high soil-N status. During a 3-year period (2011–2013), swards of perennial ryegrass and of perennial ryegrass–white clover, receiving up to 240 kg N ha−1 year−1, were compared using isotope dilution and N-difference methods. The presence of white clover increased herbage and N yields by 12–44% and 26–72%, respectively. Applications of N fertilizer reduced sward white clover content, but the effect was less at below 120 kg N ha−1. The proportion of N derived from the atmospheric N fixation was 25–70%. Nitrogen fixation ranged from 25 to 142 kg N ha−1 measured using the isotope dilution method in 2012 and from 52 to 291 kg N ha−1 using the N-difference method across all years. Fertilizer N application reduced the percentage and yield of fixed N. Transfer of N from white clover to grass was not confirmed, but there was an increased N content in grass and soil-N levels. Under intensive grazing, the maximum applied N rate that optimized herbage and N yields with minimal effect on white clover content and fixation rates was 60–120 kg N ha−1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-574
Number of pages16
JournalGrass and Forage Science
Volume71
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

Keywords

  • biological N fixation
  • intensive grazing
  • mixed sward
  • N production
  • perennial ryegrass
  • Trifolium repens L.

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Herbage and nitrogen yields, fixation and transfer by white clover to companion grasses in grazed swards under different rates of nitrogen fertilization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this