Yield and Quality of Birdsfoot Trefoil Stockpiled for Summer Utilization1
- Michael Collins2
Pasture production is generally lower during summer than during spring and autumn in the midwestern and eastern states of the USA. Forage stockpiled during spring could increase the carrying capacity of pastures during summer. The objective of this experiment was to study the use of birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.) to provide stockpiled forage for utilization during summer.
Small plots (1.5 ✕ 5.8 m) of ‘Empire’ birdsfoot trefoil on Plano silt loam soil (fine-silty, mixed, mesic Typic Argiudoll) were managed according to eight cutting treatments (T) in 1979 and 10 treatments in 1980. Harvest dates in 1979 were; (T1) 30 May, 16 July, and 10 October, (T2) 30 May, 1 August, and 10 October, (T3) 30 May, 15 August, and 10 October, (T4) 28 June, 16 July, and 10 October, (T5) 28 June, 1 August, and 10 October, (T6) 28 June, 15 August, and 10 October, (T7) 30 May, 28 June, 1 August, and 10 October, and (T8) 30 May, 28 June, 15 August, and 10 October. Harvest dates in 1980 were: (T1) 28 May, 14 July, and 17 October, (T2) 28 May, 1 August, and 17 October, (T3) 28 May, 15 August, and 17 October, (T4) 13 June, 14 July, and 17 October, (T5) 13 June, 1 August, and 17 October, (T6) 13 June, 15 August, and 17 October, (T7) 28 May, 25 June, 1 August, and 17 October, (T8) 28 May, 25 June, 15 August, and 17 October, (T9) 14 July and 17 October, and (TIO) 1 August and 17 October.
Total seasonal matter yield was greatest in 1979 for plots left unharvested between late May and mid-July (Tl, 5.9 metric tons/ha). An additional treatment in 1980 in which forage was left unharvested through the spring and harvested in early or mid-August (T9 and T10) produced yields similar to that from T2, T3, T6, and T8. Stockpiling after mid or late June (T4 to T6) instead of late May (T1 to T3) reduced mid-summer yields by approximately 50% in both years. Averaged over the 2 years, forage stockpiled from late May until early August (T2) averaged 62.8% in vitro dry matter disappearance (IVDMD) and 2.34% N. Birdsfoot trefoil stockpiled all spring and harvested in early August in 1981 (T10) had an IVDMD of 56.4 and 1.96% N. Shorter stockpiling periods resulted in higher IVDMD and lower acid detergent fiber (ADF) and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) concentrations in the harvested forage, but also resulted in lower yields of stockpiled forage. These results indicate that birdsfoot trefoil can be managed lo provide forage for summer use and that the length of the stockpiling period does influence both the yield and the composition of forage produced. The optimum management is dependent on the quality of forage required for a particular class of livestock.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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