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      Herbage nutritive value of binary- and multi-species swards relative to single-species swards in intensive silage systems

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          The nutritive value of sown binary- and multi-species grassland mixtures may differ from the values expected based on single-species swards of their constituent species. Field plots were established in a split-plot design to assess the nutritive value of binary- and multi-species mixtures compared to single-species swards of three grass species and red clover (RC) ( Trifolium pratense L.) managed for intensive silage production. The nutritive value of grass–legume binary mixtures reflected the values of the constituent species grown on their own, and thus may be predicted from monoculture values. The relatively low digestibility (dry matter digestibility [DMD]) and crude protein (CP) content of the Italian ryegrass ( Lolium multiflorum L.) sward compared to perennial ryegrass ( Lolium perenne L.) and timothy ( Phleum pratense L.) suggests that it may have a limited role in binary- or multi-species swards. Herbage nutritive value in the multi-species swards (Mix 1: perennial ryegrass, timothy, RC and white clover [ Trifolium repens L.]; Mix 2: perennial ryegrass, timothy, RC, ribwort plantain [ Plantago lanceolata L.] and chicory [ Cichorium intybus L.]) appeared to be influenced more by the presence of legumes than herbs. Compared to perennial ryegrass, the multi-species swards had a slower rate of DMD decline prior to Cut 1, but subsequently had lower DMD values at the mid-season harvests. Both multi-species mixtures exhibited DMD, water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC) and CP values that would not have been predicted from their constituent species and thus need to be measured on herbage from field plots growing these mixtures.

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          Most cited references 44

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          Describing and Quantifying Growth Stages of Perennial Forage Grasses

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            Ecosystem function enhanced by combining four functional types of plant species in intensively managed grassland mixtures: a 3-year continental-scale field experiment

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              Strong mixture effects among four species in fertilized agricultural grassland led to persistent and consistent transgressive overyielding


                Author and article information

                Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research
                Compuscript (Ireland )
                19 December 2020
                1Teagasc, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Grange, Dunsany, Co. Meath, Ireland
                2School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland
                3Teagasc, Food Research Centre, Ashtown, Dublin 15, Ireland
                Author notes
                †Corresponding author: P. O’Kiely, E-mail: padraig.okiely@
                Copyright © 2020 Moloney, Sheridan, Grant, O’Riordan, and O’Kiely

                This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 IE.

                Page count
                Tables: 16, References: 44, Pages: 18
                Original Study


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